Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yes, automation needs to be autonomous


From John Markoff at The New York Times:

For the past four years, Google has been working on self-driving cars with a mechanism to return control of the steering wheel to the driver in case of emergency. But Google’s brightest minds now say they can’t make that handoff work anytime soon.

Their answer? Take the driver completely out of the driving.

I really want to give Google the benefit of the doubt here and assume that their engineers are smart enough not to have thought it was realistic for this sort of automated system to have a realtime manual backup. As I discussed a couple weeks back, "the handoff between manual (even if assisted) and autonomous needs to be clearly defined. Once you hand off control, you had better trust the autonomous system to do the right thing (within whatever margin of error you deem acceptable). You can’t wrest back control on the fly; it’s probably too late."

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