Re: All at once or none at all
> would an automated car be able to react well to a low-to-ground obstacle suddenly falling off the back of a truck
No worse than a human. The sensors will react quicker than a human, and it might be more accurate in predicting which way it's going to bounce.
> What about a child suddenly running out in front from between two cars (thus practically invisible beforehand)?
Again, it should be able to react to the human-shaped infra-red/laser imaging signature appearing quicker than a human can. It would also be able to work out quickly whether it can go around them without causing a serious collision.
> Can the car detect small but significant patches of black ice?
Yes, the infra-red signature would be different. It also might be able to detect itself losing control quicker, with accurate accelerometers comparing actual movement to control inputs.
The other thing is that, with software updates, all the "drivers" learn from the mistakes made by other automated cars.