Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagAutonomous Vehicles

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Woman passenger sitting in the backseat and  selects a route when her self-driving car rides on the highway.

Tesla Continues to Walk Back Full Self-Driving Claims

In 2016, Tesla (TSLA) couldn’t tell enough people that its cars would soon drive themselves

In 2019, Tesla raised billions of dollars on the prospect of a fleet of a million robotaxis by the next year. However, starting on the Q3 2019 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk started walking back some of those claims. To begin with, in that earnings call, Musk started saying that “feature complete” really just meant that the “City Streets” version would be operable, not that it could actually drive without assistance. A year later, in regulatory filings with the California DMV, Tesla said, “As such, a final release of City Streets will continue to be an SAE Level 2, advanced driver-assistance feature.” In the accepted terminology around levels of self-driving, truly self-driving vehicles are classed as SAE Level 5. Level…

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Motorsport racing track and car slammed brakes sign

Artificial Intelligence Slams on the Brakes

The problem of autonomous cars suddenly slamming the brakes is becoming well known and it has no known fix

Having just donated your well-worn 1994 Toyota Camry to charity, you’re driving a brand new 2020 Honda sedan on a major street, enjoying air-conditioned comfort on a sunny day, with the satellite radio service narrowcasting tunes from the soundtrack of your life. Then, WHAM! In a half second, the car slows from 45 to 20 — and you never touched the brake pedal. You never saw it coming but your neck is still reminding you painfully of your whiplash injury. A close family member experienced this exact scenario just a month ago. She never touched the brake pedal. What happened? The dealership’s sales representative had not explained each and every feature of this postmodern car and certainly didn’t warn about…

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Car and bus accident, bumper to bumper

Automated Driving and Other Failures of AI

How would autonomous cars manage in an environment where eye contact with other drivers is important?

Yesterday I posted a review here of philosopher and programmer Erik Larson’s The Myth of Artificial Intelligence. There’s a lot more I would like to say. Here are some additional notes, to which I will add in a couple of future posts. Three of the failures of Big Tech that I listed earlier (Eugene Goostman, Tay, and the image analyzer that Google lobotomized so that it could no longer detect gorillas, even mistakenly) were obvious frauds and/or blunders. Goostman was a fraud out of the box. Tay a blunder that might be fixed in the sense that its racist language could be mitigated through some appropriate machine learning. And the Google image analyzer — well that was just pathetic: either retire the image…

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electric vehicle of the future using smart electric car charging station at home frontal perspective

Apple Is Once Again Eyeing the Smart Car Market

Other firms are jumping in or ramping up and, with the fog from the COVID-19 pandemic clearing, we are looking out at a broader array of new vehicle plans

Early in February, rumor had it that Apple is once again eyeing the smart car market, both electric and self-driving. Improved batteries and new environment regulations might make smart cars a promising new business area. According to USA Today, the “iCar” is certain to be an electric vehicle costing over $40,000. The self-driving part is more of a challenge: But a self-driving car could introduce a “longer timeframe” in part due to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s cautious approach to unveiling new products, Ives said. Automakers and tech companies have yet to solve the thorniest challenges associated with autonomous driving. Nathan Bomey, “Is Apple making an electric, self-driving car? If it does, here are 5 things you could see” at USA…

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Young woman traveling in self driving car

#8 AI 2020 Smash Hit: Big Gains in Practical Self-Driving Cars

The people who have been pursuing Level Five self-driving are nowhere but Level Four is working well

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back with Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway, explaining their choices for Top Ten real advances (“Smash Hits”) in AI in 2020. Readers may recall that we offered a fun series during the holidays about the oopses and ums and ers in the discipline (typically hyped by uncritical sources). Now it’s time to celebrate the real achievements and our nerds think that #8 is the big advances in practical self-driving cars, that is Level Four cars. The car industry defines five levels of self-driving. Level Five would be Elon Musk’s robotaxis that earn money all on their own while the owners’ sleep (hasn’t happened). Level Four is the practical approach, as Jonathan…

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explosion of a filament light bulb

AI Smash Hits 2020 Part I

An ultimate test of a successful technology is whether it has been reduced to practice. Has it made a financial impact on the market? Has it been adopted by the very picky US military? Has it changed lives? We’re going to count down the AI Smash Hits: the top ten AI success stories for 2020. Join Dr. Robert J. Marks as he…

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Tired man sitting in car, wearing in sleeping mask

#4 Elon Musk: This Time Autopilot Is Going To WORK!

Jonathan Bartlett: I have to say, part of me loves Elon Musk and part of me can't stand the guy

Our nerds here at the Walter Bradley Center have been discussing the top twelve AI hypes of the year. Our director Robert J. Marks, Eric Holloway and Jonathan Bartlett talk about overyhyped AI ideas (from a year in which we saw major advances, along with inevitable hypes). From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part III, here’s #4: Elon Musk’s fully self-driving software is finally going to work: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday that the test version of the company’s Autopilot system will be released in “a month or so.” While he didn’t describe its capabilities, Musk said that once it’s out, “you’ll see what it’s like. It’s amazing. It’s clearly going to work.” Chris Woodyard, “Elon Musk says Tesla’s full…

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Autonomous vehicles on highway with self driving cars sensing environment by radar and operating safely on speedway thanks to artificial intelligence and control systems, automated transport concept

What Real Advantage Do Self-Driving Cars Provide?

It’s time for a hard-headed look at the costs and benefits of the pursuit of fully self-driving cars

More and more people are realizing that autonomous (self-driving) vehicles are not a road to automotive prosperity. To recap, Level 5 self-driving is what most people think of when they hear the term “self-driving.” You type in an address and the car takes you where you want to go while you sleep in the back. That car is not going to hit the road anytime soon. Level 4 self-driving is similar but only works within well-defined areas or situations. In practice, Level 4 essentially relies on either intelligent infrastructure or a territory that is so predictable and well-mapped that it obviates the need for intelligent infrastructure. Huge amounts have been invested in self-driving vehicles. The Information estimated that $16 billion…

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Autopilot self-driving car system with no human intervention. Close up cropped image of hand of African male driver browsing the internet using smartphone and touchscreen in futuristic autonomous car

Self-Driving Cars: Waymo Beats Tesla By Picking the Right Target

Trying to get the human out of the loop, as Musk proposes, becomes increasingly costly as the complexity increases

Full self-driving has been a contentious topic in the last few years. In 2016, Elon Musk started claiming that his cars had all the hardware needed to do full self-driving, and that the software would be there by 2019. You would be able to summon a car from across the United States and it would drive across the country, recharging as needed, to pick you up, no driver needed. He has specifically indicated that he means Level 5 autonomy, which means that no driver is needed at all. The driver can sleep, watch a movie, or just hang out in the back seat. In fact, in 2016, he indicated that drivers were merely there for regulatory purposes. Musk’s claims about…

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Creative background, male hand holding a phone with a 5G hologram on the background of the city. The concept of 5G network, high-speed mobile Internet, new generation networks. Copy space,

Seattle Area a Good Site for 5G Development, Says Analyst

By increasing bandwidth and reducing slow times, 5G will enable more people to do more online

At COSM 2019, Jay Richards interviewed Bruce Agnew, Director of the Seattle-based ACES Northwest Network on the collective’s work in bringing ACES (Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared) vehicle technologies to the Puget Sound region. They discussed, among other things, the role that 5G will play in implementing autonomous vehicles. Since 1993, Bruce Agnew has been the Policy Director of Seattle-based Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center. The Cascadia Center is a strategic alliance from Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, Oregon, promoting high speed passenger rail, Interstate-5 freight mobility, seamless border crossings, bi-national and bi-state tourism marketing, and sustainable community development. Two of his co-chairs, Tom Alberg and Bryan Mistele, were also interviewed in this series (at the links). From the interview: Agnew began…

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Cars on road highway in traffic jam

Autonomous Vehicles Are Not a “Rich Person’s” Technology

A transportation expert tells Jay Richards, alternative transport may disrupt the transportation industry but only in the short term

Jay Richards talked recently with Tom Alberg, Founder of the Madrona Venture Group and Co-chair of the ACES Northwest Network, about ACES’ efforts to bring Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared vehicle technologies to the Puget Sound region: The Benefits of ACES Vehicle Technology A partial transcript follows: Jay Richards: Well, you were chairing the panel on autonomous vehicles and you’re part of an initiative here in Seattle. What do you think is the most important takeaway from that? Tom Alberg: I think that it’s really a combination of technologies. It’s both new technologies and it’s changed business models. So we formed a group here in Seattle called ACES, Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared. “Shared” is really kind of the Uber…

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Smart car, Autonomous self-driving concept.

The Political Case Against Self-Driving Cars

An auto mechanic turned philosopher warns against ceding control of one’s destination to others, in the relentless pursuit of safety

Some worry about the role driverless cars might play in the next pandemic lockdown (there will be other pandemics and emergencies). David Lanza offers a thought-provoking scenario for these autonomous/self-driving vehicles: The production of driverless cars remains in its infancy, but if those cars ever become common, the government will have no problem locking us down on the slightest pretext. Driverless cars have no steering wheels and depend upon pre-programmed GPS coordinates to guide them (and us) to our destinations. Aside from entering a destination at the start of a trip, a driver has no way to direct the car. David Lanza, “Driverless Cars Will Make the Next Pandemic Crackdown Complete” at American Thinker The response to the COVID-19 crisis,…

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Woman passenger sitting in the backseat and  selects a route when her self-driving car rides on the highway.

If Self-Driving Cars Become the Norm, What Will It Feel Like?

Already, Millennials are more likely than their parents to see transportation as simply a means to an end

Recently, Jay Richards interviewed Bryan Mistele, founder and CEO of INRIX, on the non-fiction future of the self-driving car. INRIX provides data systems for analyzing traffic issues relevant to self-driving (autonomous) vehicles. He sees a bright future, amid many misconceptions: From the interview: Jay Richards: What do you think is the key misconception that people have about this technology? Bryan Mistele: I think the biggest misconception is that it’s just about autonomous vehicles. That you’ll go to a dealer, you’ll buy an autonomous vehicle. That’s not really the vision of what people in the industry are pursuing. It’s about what we call the ACES, Autonomous Connected, Electric, and Shared, all working together to deliver, basically, mobility as a service. Certainly…

Streetcar in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The “Moral Machine” Is Bad News for AI Ethics

Despite the recent claims of its defenders, there is no way we can outsource moral decision-making to an automated intelligence

Here’s the dilemma: The Moral Machine (the Trolley Problem, updated) feels necessary because the rules by which we order our lives are useless with automated vehicles. Laws embody principles that we apply. Machines have no mind by which to apply the rules. Instead researchers must train them with millions of examples and hope the machine extracts the correct message… 

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Scene of modern urban transportation style. People using smartphone to request a ride sharing, autonomous bus in bus stop. Electric truck and minivan moving on the road. Subway entry near to the inter

Gladwell’s Autonomy: The Future of Our Cars But Not Ourselves?

Malcolm Gladwell’s recent film probes independence, individuality, and what cars mean to us

In order to allow for autonomy to develop, the degrees of freedom available on the public roadways will probably have to decrease.

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Autonomous Drive, Self-Driving Vehicle

Would Selling Self-Driving Cars Sooner Save Lives?

Not if we look more closely at the statistics

It’s enough to make you want to run out and buy a smart car today. But just a minute. There are other statistics out there. Let’s look at some of them.

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Self driving car on a road. Autonomous vehicle. Inside view.

Elon Musk Walks Back Full Self-Driving Claims

His Q3 earnings call with investors was a stark contrast to earlier claims about a robotaxi fleet

Of course, Musk blames other people for “misconstruing” his claims. This certainly isn't the first time he has palmed off responsibility for his own mistakes onto others.

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Autonomous cars on a road with visible connection

Self-Driving Cars: Florida Lawmakers Speed Through Caution Signs

Legislation seems fuzzy about who accepts responsibility when things go wrong with autonomous vehicles

I believe that most autonomous vehicle manufacturers will exercise an abundance of caution. But if laws are fuzzy, reckless manufacturers may escape blame and innocent riders, drivers, and pedestrians will pay for the resultant mayhem.

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Green walk signal at crosswalk

AI Ethics and the Value of Human Life

Unanticipated consequences will always be a problem for totally autonomous AI

In the development of technology overall, there is always a tradeoff in which human life is given a price. For example, cheap cars aren’t safe and safe cars aren’t cheap.

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Military Technology and AI

Past, Present, and Future

Technology, including AI, needs protection. Intellectual property of corporations needs protected from espionage. Military technology needs protection from foreign agents. Show Notes 01:10 | Introduction; Daniel M. Ogden, J.D. 02:20 | Technology in the military history 08:00 | WWII technology; Norton Gun Site 12:20 | Banning AI autonomous weapons 16:48 | Slaughterbots 18:13 | Military AI endgame 18:55 | Other…