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Stanford: the most dangerious time is when self-driving car returns control to driver

Discussion in 'Autonomous Vehicles' started by Patrick0101, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. Patrick0101

    Patrick0101 Member

    Joined:
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    Oregon
    "Stanford University Dynamic Design Lab have completed a study that examines how human drivers respond when an autonomous driving system returns control of a car to them... The results of the study were published on December 6 in the first edition of the journal Science Robotics."

    "The study found that the period of time known as “the handoff” — when the computer returns control of a car to a human driver — can be an especially risky period..."

    They conclude with:
    "The best way to protect ourselves from that period of risk is to eliminate the “hand off” period entirely by ceding total control of driving to computers as soon as possible."

    Here is the related Teslarati article.

    So they conclude that the best way to solve the handoff problem is to avoid handoffs by going to level 5 as soon as possible. "Doc, it hurts when I go like this." This seems like a non-answer to me. I agree that level 5 will eventually get here but there are a lot of corner cases that have to be worked out: construction, accidents, taking direction from flaggers/officers... These cases guarantee that there is some need for the next few year for a handoff to occur. Rather than the weak sauce of saying "don't do it", I'd like to see them researching better ways for the handoff to occur.

    For example, they said that human steering response is tuned to the last speed at which we controlled the car, even if we are mentally aware of the speed change, our motor-response system needs time to adjust. Great. If you can define the problem, answers are the easy part. The steering response and stiffness can take this into consideration when handoffs occur.

    With Autopilot (HW1.0 SW 8.0), you can press on the accelerator and it does not disengage TACC. I'd like to see this applied to the steering and brake too. (What? That's crazy!) Maybe, hear me out, then decide. There are a couple places on my commute that AP just cannot deal with (yet). One of them is a curve with an intersection so there are few lane lines. I know where these spots are and I take over as the car starts to encroach on the bike lane, before AP signals for help. However, just because I actively turn the wheel, does not mean that I wanted autosteer to disable. Of course, I want it to go the direction that I steer, but then afterward AP could still continue to follow the lane that it has now refound.

    Tesla (rightfully so) wants us to keep our hands on the wheel when AP is on, but too often I find that this means I inadvertently turn off autosteer because I want to be slightly left or right of exact lane center (I have my reasons: pothole, rut, big truck, that guy on my left looks drunk...) and AP disagrees with me. I would like to see the AP system and the driver to work more in concert rather than as a tag-team. I would like to see the AP and driver act as a centaur chess team. This is another way to avoid the hand-off without removing the (currently required) human from the equation.
     
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  2. int32_t

    int32_t Tesla Spotter

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    Yeah, the literal co-pilot concept is definitely an appealing one. I like the concept, especially as HW 2.0 will be able to watch all around the car all the time (humans are much more limited). It would be nice to have a copilot mode as we wait for full autonomous so the car can help out even if it doesn't understand everything yet.

    The big question: will autonomous cars care about potholes? Dodging potholes is important (sometimes a safety issue depending where you live). Also, on some highways, it's much quieter to drive just to the side of the tracks everyone else drives in. There certainly are a lot of things that drivers care about that are rarely mentioned by autonomous car developers, and will probably require a lot of effort to solve.
     
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  3. WannabeOwner

    WannabeOwner Active Member

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    Could reduce carriageway repair bills for highways authority too, if all vehicles would drive in slightly different positions in the lane? Alternatively, if all AutoPilots choose "centre of lane" that will increase carriageway wear cost ...

    Well, presumably not the overall amount of wear, just the length of time until the carriageway needs resurfacing. Here we get tram-line grooves in the "slow lane" from heavy vehicles; IMHO they occur far too soon because the highways authority have not spent enough money building a long life surface in the first place, and their economic model is based on short term, and not taking into account the cost of delays for traffic when the road is resurfaces.
     
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  4. ReddyLeaf

    ReddyLeaf Member

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    Absolutely, this these are two of the reasons that I haven't engaged AP (the third reason is cost).
     
  5. int32_t

    int32_t Tesla Spotter

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    In the case of Autopilot as it stands now, I've driven with it on the well-used highway between Calgary and Edmonton here and was able to gently nudge the steering wheel to get the car to move over in the lane and get off the noisy patches without disengaging Autopilot.

    I am very keen on Autopilot's co-piloting capacity right now. It takes over the monotonous stretches of highway for you, leaving you to be completely alert and refreshed for demanding city traffic. The transition where Autopilot becomes more capable, but can't quite let go of you just yet, will be difficult for the reasons described in the study.
     
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