Tesla crash highlights a problem: When cars are partly self-driving, humans don't feel responsible – Tech News

A Tesla Model 3 in a showroom in Los Angeles, California, recently. Semi-autonomous driving systems such as Tesla's Autopilot require humans and robots to share the driving duties. — Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO: Was Autopilot on when a Tesla Model S smashed into the back of a parked Culver City fire truck on the 405 Freeway on Jan 22 in broad daylight?

That's what the driver told police. Tesla Inc – which would have such information because it is monitors car and driver behavior over wireless networks.

The crash highlights a big problem new cars are being equipped with robot systems that take over functions such as cruise control and driving, and still require drivers to pay full attention.

Many drivers – especially drivers – do not always focus solely on the road. Distracted by smartphones and other devices, drivers are crashing, killing themselves and others, at increasing rates.

Fully driverless cars, with no need for steering wheels, are likely to prove safer than human drivers, strict and constant attention to driving. Such vehicles are beginning to appear on public highways in places such as Phoenix and Las Vegas.

But those systems are expensive and experimental. Semi-autonomous systems such as Autopilot are available in cars from Tesla, Audi, Volvo, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and others. They require humans and robots to share the driving duties.

Researchers with a deep experience in human-machine interaction say it's folly to think that will not cause problems. Jan 22's crash will make the news.

“There's something we used to call split responsibility, “said Hod Lipson, director of Columbia University's Creative Machines Lab. “If you give the same responsibility to two people, they will be 100%, and that's a dangerous thing.”

That's also true for humans sharing tasks with robots, he said .

In the experiments, people are put in semi-autonomous driving simulators to measure their reaction times when something goes wrong. When subjects were distracted, average reaction time in the simulator almost doubled, researcher Kelly Funkhouser said.

The longer the subjects remained “cognitively disengaged”, the longer their reaction times got. Some fell asleep.

Some automakers are using the technology to try to make shared duties safer. The driver-assist robot system is on the new Cadillac CT6 tracks driver eyeballs and sounds a warning if the driver is not watching the road. If the driver fails to respond properly, the system gradually slows the car and pulls it over.

Tesla cars rely on steering wheel sensors to track driver awareness. In other words, the car monitors are the drivers of the level of attention.

Autopilot driving. Tesla warns drivers not to use such devices. It is easy to get to the driver's car by using Autopilot.

The Tesla Autopilot system, like systems from Cadillac, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus and others, fits into the Level 2 or Level 3 categories for the semi-autonomous and autonomous cars set by the Society of Automotive Engineers. At Level 2, where most driver-assist technologies stand now, the driver is expected to pay full attention. With Level 3, the robot drives most of the time. There is no clear line of demarcation between those two levels.

Some companies are afraid that semi-autonomous driving and shared duties will lead to accidents. Ford, for one, has said it will skip shared duties and, when the technology is ready, go straight to Levels 4 and 5, where no human driver is required at all.

Tesla – which is based in Palo Alto and led by Elon Musk – is equipping its new Model 3 with hardware claims it will support full autonomy, and it's charging US $ 8,000 (RM30,967) for the suite. The robot drive.

Waymo, the robot-car arm of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, likewise eschews semi-autonomous systems. Already, it is running a ride-and-ride service in and around Phoenix that is completely driverless. The passengers can sit and back and watch the steering wheel. – Los Angeles Times / TNS

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