Thursday, August 09, 2018

And That's The Easy Part

I gather that in general people trying to develop autonomous vehicles are aware of this basic problem, though someone whose name rhymes with Devon Tusk seems to not give a shit, but you can't keep ratcheting up "driver assist" features if they don't work very well. The instant drivers start relying on them, instead of just perceiving them as an emergency failsafe, they stop paying attention.

The IIHS says these tests are just the start, and they’ll expand on them as more cars with more features hit the market, and work with international safety bodies like the UK’s Thatcham. But they already highlight the balancing act that automakers are having to pull off. If their systems are too capable, then they risk the driver’s attention wandering, which is a criticism leveled against Tesla and may have led to a fatal collision in northern California in March.

But if they’re too simplistic, they’re just frustrating to use, and drivers won’t bother. And the basic safety systems, at least, do save lives. IIHS says preventing lane departure crashes alone would save 8000 lives per year. Tesla makes bold safety claims for its Autopilot suite, which are hard to check without data, but the company says it does plan to release regular safety statistics, starting later this quarter, as promised by Elon Musk. He also says his cars are going to get more capable with software updates, changing lane for themselves, for example.