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Lane and other road marking standardization for better autonomy/driver assist

Discussion in 'Autonomous Vehicles' started by bhzmark, May 9, 2017.

  1. bhzmark

    bhzmark Supporting Member

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    A big problem with current driver assistance technology seems to be the wide variation in lane and other road markings. A lot of that could be improved with simply better lane markings and more consistent standards.

    Does anyone know of any lobbying or other efforts to try to get the various jurisdictions to implement better rules requiring better lane markings?
     
  2. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    It is an interesting thought, but honestly, there are really already a lot of standards about road markings, sign sizes, locations, and frequencies etc in most countries. Furthermore, given the billions of miles of roads and billions of signs that are already out there the chances of getting a significant number of roads repainted and/or signs replaced to meet the new standards would be fairly low. It would also take a considerable amount of money... something that many smaller jurisdictions just don't have. Also, consider that a visual system to read signs is really less than ideal... it takes a lot of processing power to scan an image to identify and read a sign. Even when that sign is a standard size in a standard location with a standard font.

    I think what would be better would be a much more detailed map system that stores data about speed limits and stop signs and other road signs so it's not necessary to automated cars to actually visually identify them. Ideally when a jurisdiction made a change and installed a new stop sign or changed a speed limit they could also submit a change to get the map system updated with the new information so that we don't need to rely on cameras to pick up that new information.

    The one infrastructure change that I think might be helpful would be for traffic lights to broadcast their state data with some sort of reasonably low power/low range RF transmitter. Again, this would mean that automated cars wouldn't need to visually identify red or green lights and ideally would also know exactly when the light will change so it may be able to speed up a little or slow down a little to be able to handle the intersection more smoothly. Again, though, this would be a very expensive and labor intensive change to update all of the traffic lights with such a system.
     
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  3. oktane

    oktane Active Member

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    Trump infrastructure project should be converting carpool lanes to AP friendly lanes....whatever that entails. Magnets to mark the lanes? Make them smooth enough for 150MPH cruising....
     
  4. bhzmark

    bhzmark Supporting Member

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    #4 bhzmark, May 9, 2017
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
    Changes and updates and enforcement of existing standards is what is needed. Simply requiring that more roads have lane markings, and that the lane markings be kept in good repair/visibility, could easily save lives once more AP cars are on the roads.

    It would mostly be enforcing and making changes to this: Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) - FHWA "States must adopt the 2009 National MUTCD as their legal State standard for traffic control devices within two years from the effective date."
    2009 Edition with Revisions No. 1 and 2 Incorporated, dated May 2012 (HTML) - FHWA - MUTCD

    For instance this rule should not be "optional"

    upload_2017-5-9_18-25-42.png


    from Figure 3B-8 Long Description, Sheet 1 of 2 - MUTCD 2009 Edition - FHWA

    and this rule should be strengthened to that old markings will not be confused as current: Chapter 3A - MUTCD 2009 Edition - FHWA
    upload_2017-5-9_18-30-43.png
     
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  5. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    Botts dots going away in California:

    Botts’ Dots, after a half-century, will disappear from freeways, highways

    Concerning autonomous driving: "Another major Caltrans concern: Self-driving vehicles may someday be common. Tests have shown that by covering up the striping with Botts’ Dots, the navigation systems of those vehicles can get confused, perhaps leading to drifting."

    RT
     
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  6. croman

    croman Active Member

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    Tesla's HW2 recognizes Botts dots and it increases it's confidence. That's a poor decision by California.
     
  7. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    Good thread bhzmark. I often wondered whether any actual infrastructure improvements would be required for normal use of autonomous vehicles.

    Here is a story from over 20 years ago about a pilot test in California using magnets embedded in the road:

    IT'S NOT HARD TO GET USED TO MAGNETS DOING THE STEERING

    Given the way technology advances, you don't want to shell out an insane amount of money for something that can be easily solved some other way. A good example of this is the old style emergency phones (Call Box) along the highways. Before cell phone coverage, can you imagine the cost to string wire or connect each of these to a microwave tower in the distance?

    If I had to guess I would say that going forward the solution to any problems with autonomous driving will be solved most economically with in vehicle hardware and software. While the idea of having uniform lane markings to better enable cars to drive themselves seems almost like a no brainer, you wouldn't want to have the vehicle solely reliant on such markings. Markings can be obscured by a variety of one time events, many of which can't be anticipated (i.e. paint spills, snow, new pavement, etc.). Factor in automated machine learning about the environment, and sharing that data with other cars, and you even cover most edge cases. For example, automated car on the freeway comes upon a large dead deer in the center of the right lane. In vehicle software thats constantly "looking" for things that would normally trip it up, encounters this and informs a central database that something is amiss. The car then goes around the obstacle. The central facility can dispatch a crew to fix the problem. In the interim, cars along that stretch can be informed about the blockage prior to arriving to smooth traffic flow out. Each car would need to be able to respond as the "first arriver", but later arrivers being alerted can automatically switch to other lanes in advance, or take a different route if thats the better solution. Vehicle to vehicle, and/or vehicle to server to vehicle could all be used in some capacity.

    Given the total mileage of two lane unmarked roads in the U.S., let alone the lesser developed countries, I would think that solving the problem in software is the optimum way forward. Sure, some companies are going to perfect the approach sooner and/or better than others. But looking out say 5 years, I would think that any company that is implementing self driving for vehicles will have "solved" how to have the car drive safely on two lane unmarked roads.

    RT
     
  8. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    Not too long ago I saw an article about Caltrans deciding to stripe freeway lanes with 6-inch lane divider markings versus the current 4-inch ones to help with autonomous vehicles lane detection. Here are a couple links to those articles. The second one specifically mentions that they coordinated this with Tesla:

    https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2017/07/18/caltrans-self-driving-cars.html

    http://www.dot.ca.gov/milemarker/docs/articles/2017/Q3/MM-2017-Q3-striping.pdf

    This report from June gives details:

    http://www.dot.ca.gov/milemarker/docs/articles/2017/Q2/MM-2017-Q2-sb1.pdf

    And I may have come across this myself today. The 210 freeway West of Pasadena is having the outer lanes rebuilt in sections over a couple years. Check out the following video. At the start, the lane line on the left is smaller, possibly due to just reconstruction striping. Later in the clip we have a much wider stripe, with the white in the middle and black on either side. No Botts dotts either. There may be reflectors between the large stripes. I'll have to take a closer look at that next time I'm out there. Curious if anyone out there with a Tesla can report on whether this helps with the EAP.



    RT
     
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  9. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    Wonderful in theory but I think it's a pipedream. Focus on what we can control and improve without needing wide consensus and cooperation of government agencies - the AI of the cars.
     
  10. AnxietyRanger

    AnxietyRanger Well-Known Member

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    This sounds like the age old saying, why do we have two standards for this... we need to fix this!

    Now we have three standards.
     
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  11. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    I think the wider and more visible stripes are a win-win. They have to do it eventually anyway, so might as well make them more visible, which makes it better for human drivers too. That fact that it also helps autonomous cars work better is almost a freebie. This is one of the few "infrastructure" improvements related to self driving cars that I think makes sense.

    I'll have to check these out at night to see how the reflector paint works. Exciting stuff :cool:. Good thing I'm easily entertained...

    RT
     
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  12. bhzmark

    bhzmark Supporting Member

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    Yeah, stupid gubmint -- making us all drive on one side of the road; making stop lights the same color; making lanes a minimum size. Keep stupid consensus and cooperation off my AI car.
     
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  13. AnxietyRanger

    AnxietyRanger Well-Known Member

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    I don't think many consider standardization stupid. Indeed there are realistic, legitimiate standardization questions to drive (BEV charging would IMO seem a good one over time). And organizations like EU (and I would assume, though in a different legal and cultural setting, the U.S. federal government) certainly drive standardization of a lot of stuff, traffic infrastructure included... Finally, I'm not an expert, but there probably are already inter-government agencies working on traffic intrastructure and standardization (within the U.N. perhaps or industry SIGs/assocations)...

    But I do think this is a bit like the drive for commincations between cars to enable autonomy (and other smart city concepts advanced by e.g. Volkswagen). A good thing itself, but an unnecessary and unhelpful slowing down factor, if allowed to become a roadblock. I think the best and fastest way to self-driving is to take the world as it is and solve that. Because it will never be 100% anyway, the world is too big and the resources always too limited. Then, over time, we can of course add layers of improvements to that...
     
  14. AnxietyRanger

    AnxietyRanger Well-Known Member

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    Volkswagen and Audi have of course worked on the intelligent infrastructure / smart city / car communications thing for a long time, e.g. intelligent traffic lights that communicate with the car, car-to-car communications and so forth. I'm sure many other companies have worked on this too.

    Audi's new traffic-light countdown is the first step to smarter cities

    Audi launches first Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology in the U.S. starting in Las Vegas | Audi USA

    Audi Urban Future Initiative
     

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