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Exploring "non human-style" errors made by robocars

In January, a Waymo robotaxi incident unfolded, with the vehicle erroneously crossing a red light due to a human remote operator's oversight. Fortunately, a moped approaching the intersection managed to evade collision despite sliding. This occurrence emphasizes the need for better management of remote operators but ultimately highlights a human, not robotic, error. Waymo has taken corrective measures to avert similar incidents in the future, aligning with the experimental nature of pilot projects aimed at refining autonomous driving technology.


Besides, it is important to look at the typology difference between crashes caused by humans and those caused by robots. This should lead to to paradigm shift when addressing robot-specific crash scenarios: while some incidents resemble typical human errors, others, like Cruise's dragging of a pedestrian, underscore the unique challenges inherent in autonomous vehicle operations. Interestingly, there is a disproportionate attention garnered by such inhuman crashes, despite their rarity compared to traditional accidents.

Overlap between crashes caused by humans and those caused by robocars - Credits: Brad Templeton, Forbes

Autonomous vehicle development teams strive to comprehend and mitigate both human-style and robot-specific crashes through rigorous testing and simulation. This process involves simulating a wide range of crash scenarios encountered in real-world human accidents and those unique to autonomous vehicles, albeit with less intuitive understanding. Over time, this approach aims to reduce the overlap between crashes caused by humans and those caused by robots, ultimately contributing to safer roads and enhanced public confidence in autonomous driving technology.


A very interesting article by Brad Templeton on Forbes:

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