Three years ago, everyone was talking about self-driving cars. Uber and Google were leading the charge in developing cars that could drive themselves without causing a car accident.
But then the news stopped coming from the sector. Self-driving cars were still being tested, but the developments were no longer newsworthy.
Self-Driving Cars Hit a Wall in Artificial Intelligence
Self-driving cars are operated by artificial intelligence. Scanners mounted on the vehicles “see” the road and detect hazards. That data is processed by a computer in the car that then takes appropriate action to avoid the danger.
However, artificial intelligence and computers cannot think like humans do. People can infer, or predict, how to react to a set of circumstances based on vaguely similar experiences from the past. Computers, on the other hand, have to experience each situation.
That is the main reason why the development of self-driving cars has stagnated in the last couple of years. The vast majority of time on the road is spent in safety – looking for hazards but not seeing any danger. It is only rarely that car drivers – whether human or computer – have to take action to avoid a dangerous condition. But training artificial intelligence to react appropriately to a new hazard requires a self-driving car to confront one. Simply driving endlessly is a terribly inefficient way to encounter new hazards, and that is why newsworthy developments in autonomous vehicles have slowed.
More Virtual Miles are Being Driven Than Real Ones
As artificial intelligence has become adept at driving in normal conditions, the companies behind self-driving cars have taken testing off the road and put it into driving simulators. There, the cars can drive what engineers call “interesting miles,” where virtual hazards can be thrown at the computers in charge of the virtual vehicles.
This shift from real world miles to driving in computer simulators began as early as 2016, when Google’s self-driving team, Waymo, claimed to have logged 2.5 billion miles in a driving simulator, compared to 3 million on real roads. Each of those “interesting miles” in the simulator is used by self-driving cars on the roads.
While a computer can learn far more driving lessons behind these closed doors than in the real world, they will rarely make headlines, though.
Some Numbers Inspire Optimism
While the development has been quieter than early on, self-driving cars are slowly getting better and better at driving safely. One metric that companies have used is “disengagements” – incidents where a human driver in the vehicle took over for the computer.
According to Google, 1.2 million real-world miles were driven by its self-driving cars in 2018, with only 0.09 disengagements every 1,000 miles. For every time a human driver had to intervene, the car had driven itself more than 11,000 miles.
Car Accidents Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident in St. Joseph, Missouri, the personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.