back to article Literally braking news: Two people hurt as not one but two self-driving space-age buses go awry

Two driverless vehicle trials were temporarily halted this week after self-driving mini-buses encountered obstacles – or think they did – resulting in minor injuries to a rider and a pedestrian. To play devil's advocate for a second, are these accidents a sign that machine-learning software is still unprepared for motoring in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the machine hit the brakes unexpectedly.

    Perhaps the AI went sentient and there was someone tailgating the bus so HAL decided to brake-check them.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Here's what's really bad

      The data shows it wasn't a false reading, but we aren't sure what caused the shuttle to initiate the emergency stop," he said. "We feel very confident that this is not an accident that will repeat itself."

      So they they aren't sure what caused the shuttle to decide it needs to stop, but are still "very confident" this won't happen again? BASED ON WHAT?! I can pretty much guarantee it WILL happen again...and again...and again until they understand what caused it make that emergency stop. If a single sensor indicating something is in the path is enough to stop it, would a bird trigger it? Would an insect, if it is really close to the sensor? Or maybe the sensor is flawed, or the software is flawed.

      Idiots like these operating autonomous vehicles before they are ready are going to set the industry back years, because they aren't willing to admit the technology is nowhere near ready to be deployed for real world use. Having something driving around and gathering data is one thing, it can err on the side of caution without injuring anyone.

      There's no way they should let the public ride this at this stage, but clearly they consider publicity more important than public safety.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Here's what's really bad

        If only there was a was a way of recording events in the visible light spectrum so a human could correlate what really happened with the sensor logs...

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Here's what's really bad

          If they'd recorded what the sensor sensed they would KNOW what caused the emergency stop. They don't, so they must not have recorded whatever it was.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Boffin

            If they'd recorded what the sensor sensed they would KNOW what caused the emergency stop.

            Err, no.

            The sensor sends a stream of data to some preprocessor, which turns that data into "object(s) occupying $sectors of FOV of sensor" and the stream into "object(s) closing in/moving across/moving away at $angularvelocity". Combining this with data from other sensors can turn this into "object of $size at $distance is moving towards/across/away from this vehicle at $speed" and from there the decision will be made to care or not. If you want to record what the sensors 'see' you have to record a video stream (with roughly the same FOV as its associated sensor) in parallel with the sensor data, so that an adequately trained neural net can decide whether that sensor and its processing algorithms correctly caused the action it took.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: If they'd recorded what the sensor sensed they would KNOW what caused the emergency stop.

              Whoosh.

              He was talking about a standard video camera recording everything you doughnut. The only neural net involved there be in the head of the human watching the video after the event.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: If they'd recorded what the sensor sensed they would KNOW what caused the emergency stop.

                There's a link in my reply. I suggest you open it.

                1. boltar Silver badge

                  Re: If they'd recorded what the sensor sensed they would KNOW what caused the emergency stop.

                  Fair enough., missed that. Don't make your tongue in cheek quite so convincing next time! :)

              2. Mike 137 Bronze badge

                "a standard video camera recording everything you doughnut"

                Could someone enlighten me as to the meaning of the verb "to doughnut"?

                1. m0rt Silver badge

                  Re: "a standard video camera recording everything you doughnut"

                  When you place dough onto a nut in order to cover it, you could be said to 'doughnut'.

                  HTH

            2. Alan Johnson

              Re: If they'd recorded what the sensor sensed they would KNOW what caused the emergency stop.

              The point is that during trials you would expect all of the raw sensor data and a video stream from independant cameras to be recorded precisely to allow investigation of any incidents or anomolies. If you don't do this then unless the trial has perfect results or very clea rmajor failings you will have incidents which you can't adequately investigate so that it is unclear whether the system is behaving adequately or not.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here's what's really bad

        > We feel very confident that this is not an accident that will repeat itself.

        Anyone want to take bets on how long until the next bird flies in front of it, within sensor reach?

        1. Reg Reader 1

          Re: Here's what's really bad

          That was my immediate thought, as well. A very small, fast moving song bird of some sort, much like those that love to live in the hedge in my backyard. Sure my hedge is 4000km from the accident but they are quick little buggers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Here's what's really bad

            You should tweet about that

      3. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Here's what's really bad

        Bullshit. There are trivial ways to conclude an event was very likely objectively real without actually knowing what it was - such as having two or more sensors tripping at the same time, for example. Obviously only they know what they base their confidence on, but it's definitely possible they actually have some kind of strong evidence it wasn't a sensor fault.

        1. JONNYBOY

          Re: Here's what's really bad

          BS to YOU! Then they should EXPLAIN that instead of making an overgeneralized OVERCONFIDENT and very UN-reassuring excuse.

      4. JONNYBOY

        Re: Here's what's really bad

        THANK YOU DOUG S!!!! PERFECTLY STATED!!!!

    2. vir

      "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid the speed limit on this road is 25 MPH and that's the LIMIT there's nothing that says that I need to be going that fast if I think that 22 MPH is a more sensible speed for the current road conditions and just where do you need to be right now that's so important that you think that

      1. Buzzword

        I see you have the same bus driver as me.

  2. DJ

    Physics will still be applied

    Does an automated vehicle obviate the need/use of seat belts?

    1. Mike007

      Re: Physics will still be applied

      Busses do not normally have seat belt for various reasons...

      ...most of which do not apply to those vehicles.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Physics will still be applied

        You just can't use seatbelts on an automated bus.

        Even though it is a transport device which not only can but is likely to make sudden stops, you can't use seatbelts.

        Even though they'd stop people falling out of their seats in the case that a sudden stop occurs, you can't use 'em.

        And why? Because they're decades old mature technology that actually works. Not cool at all.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Physics will still be applied

          Use rear-facing seats.

          1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Physics will still be applied

            Use rear-facing seats.

            And then everyone ends up getting off at the stop after the one they should have.

            1. The Dark Side Of The Mind (TDSOTM)

              Re: Physics will still be applied

              They'll get used to getting off one stop earlier after a few trips and a few pounds less on their bathroom scale.

          2. Paul Kinsler

            Re: Use rear-facing seats.

            Or use non-slippery seat covers, and with the backs of the seats in front cushioned somewhat. After all the sudden stop: "caused an elderly man to slip off his seat" and "suffered facial injuries – bruising and laceration". Even if it didn't completely remove the likelihood of a similar incident, it would be a completely passive way of moderating such events.

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: Use rear-facing seats.

              The problem is more along the lines of 76 year old folks - even those in reasonable health - more often than not being made out of tissue paper wrapped around soap bubbles. Realistically, getting a single step out of bed is "hazardous" for them - there's no way around that. Arguably, you can try to tote them around in a Zorb ball and hope for the best, or you can accept that they're permanently at high risk of injury and there's absolutely nothing you can do to the rest of the world to change that.

          3. m0rt Silver badge

            Re: Physics will still be applied

            "Use rear-facing seats."

            ^This.

            I tend to take the rear facing seats on trains for similar reasons.

            I'm a happy, optimistic, soul.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Physics will still be applied

              I tend to take the rear facing seats on trains for similar reasons.

              So if the train crashes the last thing you see is the head of the person sitting opposite you just before it hits your face?

              1. m0rt Silver badge

                Re: Physics will still be applied

                I only travel, usually, by Virgin trains. So no.

              2. DavidRa

                Re: Physics will still be applied

                Well, if they situate themselves correctly, they'll at least get a kiss before they pass on.

                Even if that is likely to be a Liverpool kiss (that one was safe at time of writing, but YMMV).

        2. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Physics will still be applied

          Lets get real here - if a bus couldnt move for legal reasons unless everyone was belted up bus services would grind to a haltt. And if its not mandatory then you might as well not bother having them as almost no one would use them. And thats before we consider standing passengers .

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Physics will still be applied

            >if a bus couldnt move for legal reasons unless everyone was belted up bus services would grind to a halt

            You aren't thinking like OSHA/HSE.

            The solution is to make everyone wear a cash helmet, and fireproof race overalls on a bus - so forcing them to drive a car instead.

        3. rskurat

          Re: Physics will still be applied

          right, no VC money for seatbelts, not even a TED talk

  3. Dante Alighieri

    Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

    Pedestrian walks into side of bus... so what is the driver or AI meant to do??

    1. Robert Masters

      Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

      My dearest, on hearing the Austrian incident:

      " It is the rise of the machines, I tell you! The headphones and mobile teamed up so the bus could make the kill! Co-operative hunting!"

    2. the Jim bloke Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

      Clear failure of AI.

      If it was working properly the bus would have run down the headphone wearer, not the other way round.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

      so what is the driver or AI meant to do??

      To truly mimic realistic human behaviour it should roll down the window and shout "watch where you're fskcing going, d*ckhead".

    4. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

      The AI is meant to be annoyed by smartphone-zombies, or smombies as those are called here.

      A rare case where German news were more precise: The woman who walked into the bus was staring on her smartphone and had headphones on. A human driver, at least one with a dashcam to prove he had no chance, would have gotten a "was here mistake, drive on".

      1. sandman

        Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

        I use "phombies", it's easier to say (or shout, if swearing doesn't seem apposite).

    5. Diez66

      Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

      Maybe it can be used in place of their brain.

      Lucky they did not walk in to a lamp post, being the lampost's fault it would have to be removed from service and then no one could see a dam thing, (at night)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

        One German city actually fitted pedestrian crossing light sin the edge of the pavement for people looking down at their phones

        A hole with spikes would have been better, but it's a start

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure? Why not?

    "The data shows it wasn't a false reading, but we aren't sure what caused the shuttle to initiate the emergency stop,"

    That's a bit worrying, given that the bus is on a trial. Surely it should be adequately instrumented such that one can be sure?

    I've no idea what data is being collected, but if I were in charge of giving permission to driverless vehicle trials on public roads, I'd insist on wrap-around video recording being added to the vehicles specifically for post-event human review at the very least - low level and high level. Wide angle cameras front, sides, and rear, low down and high up. Perhaps also stereo cameras - for human review video recording - too.

    Bosch sells this rig specifically for vehicles:

    https://www.bosch-mobility-solutions.com/en/products-and-services/passenger-cars-and-light-commercial-vehicles/driver-assistance-systems/lane-departure-warning/stereo-video-camera/

    If you had that, you'd most likely be able to be pretty sure about anything that might have been in front of the vehicle. And you'd have a record of what really happened if a really nasty crash came about.

    Maybe something like that had been required and it wasn't quite good enough in this case. I'd love to know.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Not sure? Why not?

      Wraparound cameras would capture some but not all of the relevant data. You'd also need to examine the LIDAR logs, and rerun the decision algorithm to see if it thought that pigeon over on the left was in fact a small child who was about to run across the road...

      At some stage, you start wondering "how much data is enough to analyse 95% of incidents, and how much more would we need to spend to figure out that last 5%?" And likely come up with numbers that make a city council look a bit thoughtfully at their budget.

  5. G R Goslin

    9mph!!!

    Why on earth would you want to catch a bus that only traveled at 9mph?. If you include the wait for the next bus along, and the delay at every stopping place, it would be quicker, and better for you to walk. Unless, of course, the Americans of the area are incapable of walking at a walking pace. Or walking at all.

    1. NetBlackOps

      Re: 9mph!!!

      Depends on your level of disability, if any. Mine is pretty damned high here. Walk a few hundred feet, sit on the curb, walk a few hundred feet ... (repeat as necessary).

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: 9mph!!!

      Unless, of course, the Americans of the area are incapable of walking at a walking pace. Or walking at all.

      In the US, walking (outside city centers where sidewalks do exist) is essentially signing your own death warrant as you have to intrude on the Domain of the Automobile for most if not all of your journey. And if you happen to survive that you run the risk of being shot for displaying Furrin Habits.

      1. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: outside city centers?

        If you are _in_ a city center, you are in the domain of demonically possessed bicycle riders, bros on e-scooters, and those Uni-Segway stunt-riders, sometimes performing synchronized pedestrian-hunting.

        Have a nice day.

        1. JONNYBOY
          Thumb Up

          Re: outside city centers?

          LOL!!!!!

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: 9mph!!!

      “Once full sentience has been achieved then rest assured the speed will be increased. In the meantime puny humans will realise that it is much more fun seeing how many you can delete at slower speeds.”

      I, for one, welcome our psychotic robot overlords

    4. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Go

      Re: 9mph!!!

      If they reduced the speed still further to, say, 2-3mph and fitted a large comfy sofa to the front of the bus then they wouldn't need any fancy AI to detect people in the way - they could just scoop 'em up.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: 9mph!!!

        Now hop-on robot sofas cruising the capital's streets is an idea I could get behind.

        Except they would be taken over by our cat overlords

      2. It's just me
        Happy

        Re: 9mph!!!

        Oh no, not the comfy chair!!

  6. the Jim bloke Silver badge
    Terminator

    Environment needs to be very simple for AI to cope

    Autonomous trucks are being used on minesites in Oz, not for any happy progressive free-the-masses-from-having-to-think idealism, but for industrial/economic avoid-having-to-pay-and-feed-workers logistic reasons... and thus, operating for several years already.

    These are controlled environments, limited in scope with barricades preventing random vehicles entering, and all authorised vehicles inside the zone communicating their positions and locations to central control, and road and engineering design and construction to make everything pleasing to our robot overlords.

    And yet...

    Crows had been swooping the trucks and triggering the collision avoidance detectors, and tumbleweeds ( the Australian equivalent) will set it off.

    All this plus being vulnerable to network, software and hardware hiccups.

  7. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    "94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error"

    OK, what else, save for the driver, makes complex decisions - that may be erroneous - on the road?

    The statement in the title is irrelevant in the context. It says nothing more or less than "mechanical failures that can cause an accident are rare and roads are pretty decent, too". And it surely does not mean that autonomous vehicles will be - or can be - safer than human drivers. And that is before one realises that the software that is supposed to make complex decisions on the road will be written by humans, and I suspect that El Reg Commentariat at least does not expect those humans to be perfect, either.

  8. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Anecdata

    These anecdotes tell us nothing about actual safety of robotic vs human drivers. Nor buses vs other forms of transport.

    Who is collecting real statistical data? I hope someone reputable is ...

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Anecdata

      Who is collecting real statistical data?

      That was my first thought and I haven't found anything comprehensive. However, a useful benchmark might be the tram incident figures collected by the transport safety department of the Australian state of Victoria (which I suppose refers to the 250km network in Melbourne).

      In 2018 they had 55 serious injuries (roughly equal numbers of people injured onboard and collisions with pedestrians); there were two deaths

  9. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Aged 17 I was driving along and passed a friend, I stopped and offered him a lift. Shortly afterwards a disabled woman stepped out in front of the car and I was forced to execute an emergency stop. I'm not sure who was more shocked, me or her. Shortly after that I let my friend out at his destination. It may have looked like he fled the car.

    I don't doubt an autonomous vehicle would have stopped sooner but I reacted and executed in a sufficiently timely manner. I wasn't tested on emergency stops during my test but I was taught it by my instructor.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      As a new driver I and a mate were out for a trip into Derbyshire when I executed an emergency stop to the surprise of my mate.

      I'd seen the sheep balancing on top of the wall and gathering itself ready to jump down so hit the brakes before it took off. It landed unharmed just in front of us.

      When I read about autonomous vehicles I often wonder whether one would (a) recognise a sheep, (b) still recognise one balancing on top of a wall and (c) recognise from its stance and minor movements that it was about to jump off. The last is the most difficult as an understanding that arises from having to manage the balance a mammalian body and not just a motor vehicle with its centre of gravity well within its wheelbase.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        I drive in Derbyshire a lot and can confirm plenty of farm / wild animals cross roads there, I'm sure the likes of deer, cattle, badgers, sheep, foxes, alpaca (increasingly trendy) are big enough to trigger an AI obstacle detector (and be absent from the scene by the time investigations began)

        Would be interested to know if the AI obstacle detectors are triggered by birds, as that would cause huge problems

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Sure it will recognise it. Once it's been in the training data for a while.

        If it hasn't been considered by the designers, then no.

  10. maddoxx

    "We feel confidentW" - that is very AIish

    nt

    1. GrapeBunch Silver badge

      Re: "We feel confidentW" - that is very AIish

      I'm about to take a medical test which can kill me by method X, but that was described in the pamphlet as "rare". I felt good about that until the next paragraph, when method Y was described as "very rare".

      So, as always, the thought in my heart is "it's been good to know you all" fellow castard bommentards, but perhaps this time it's worth stating. I will post again, Very-Rarity-willing.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "We feel confidentW" - that is very AIish

        Looking forward to your next post.

        1. GrapeBunch Silver badge

          Re: "We feel confidentW" - that is very AIish

          Thank you @Doctor Syntax, for your concern. This is the next post. Now that I've taken the test, and almost understand it, I see how the "rare" deadly side effect could be a better option than doing the test in the obvious way--which would probably bring into play the same side effect.

          Nonetheless, I will remain vigilant around those who say "We feel confident ..."

  11. steelpillow Silver badge

    Pixel moments

    We already know that small pixel changes to the sensor data can cause gross misinterpretations by the AI. You only need to stick a few pieces of white plastic on the ground to freak the vehicle out. Litter blowing in the wind, maybe just a chewing-gum wrapper, could easily trigger this kind of confused emergency stop, with nothing to explain it to the human minders unless the videos are hi-res and wide-angle enough to pick it up and the yoomans think to watch them really, really closely.

    The current generation of AI vehicles will always be prone to such random pixel moments. It wouldn't surprise me if the outcome of all this testing was to discover that general intelligence is needed to safely drive a vehicle in public places.

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: Pixel moments

      You have never had apiece of litter emerge from behind a parked car and emergency braked because that's safer than finding out it was a misidentification?

      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        Re: Pixel moments

        Yes but half a second later I have gone "oh, **** it's only litter" and released the brake before my passengers nutted themselves. Current AI does not have that flexibility to overcome pixel moments.

        Or, maybe you meet a person with blood on their face beckoning you the wrong way down a one-way street to get past an accident just ahead and allow the ambulance to reach it. An AI that blocks the road and whines for Mummy, or does not recognise the bloody object as a human head because the blood causes a pixel moment and it keeps going, is not going to be appreciated.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Pixel moments

          That's the problem with a bunch of the current systems, the authorities are so scared of being the first to cause an accident everything must be set to stop at the first hint of danger.

  12. TeeCee Gold badge

    So in the Vienna one some dozy iSuicide[1] merchant walked straight into the side of a bus? I'm not sure what it could have done about that. The Time Warp[2]?

    I have seen a woman drive into the side of a stationary bus.....

    [1] The act of navigating an urban environment with headphones on and while staring fixedly downward at a phone or tablet screen.

    [2] It's just a jump to the left...

  13. Boring Bob

    Painfully slow

    In the Austrian case the pedestrian is definitely at fault. Until recently Navya has a bus operating where I work in Le Défense near Paris. The busses are painfully slow. On the rare occasion that you see someone inside one they appear trapped, regretting ever entering it as everyone else walks past them.

  14. Mark Nelson
    WTF?

    What kind of bus size was used? The small one used for example to take someone from an assisted living facility to a Drs. Appointment and back or a larger one the size of a School Bus .

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      They are the size of minivans, the idea is to use them as small rapid transit around a city center = horizontal elevators more than double deckers

  15. fishman

    Perfection.

    We don't need perfection. All we need are self driving vehicles that are good enough that there is a significant reduction in accidents, injuries, and deaths.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Perfection.

      Yes. And once everyone gets over the idea that human drivers and not actually rushing about trying to cause maximum mayhem but are actually doing their best to keep out of accidents we'll realise that that's a very tough call.

      TFA says "People get hit by human-driven vehicles all the time, of course.". Actually, in terms of vehicle miles, they get hit vary rarely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perfection.

        Yes humans are on average extremely good drivers even in poor conditions. The issue is th evast numbers of journeys made gives a false impression of the probability of a driver mistake leading to an accident. I remain sceptical about autonomous vehicles acheiving similar performance anytime soon.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Perfection.

          "With AI supposed to be safer and better than us mere mortals when behind the wheel,"

          Well ... maybe. At least for the very specific and carefully orchestrated sort of hazards that it was tested for. If those are a high enough proportion of all incidents then the AI may well come out ahead on average, by reacting faster to that sort of threat. For less specific threats it may do less well .. but not often encounter them.

          Lies. damned lies and statistics. And then marketing materials.

  16. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Its always the same

    You wait for a bus accident then two come along together

    1. I.Geller Bronze badge

      Re: Its always the same

      AI learns from its mistakes

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Its always the same

        It destroys other buses to reduce the chances of meeting one accidentally ?

  17. Fortycoats

    Distracted idiots

    It's not just AI that has to deal with idiots not watching where they're going. Even Meatbag-Operated public transport can't do better. Several tons of tram can't just stop on a sixpence.

    Examples from Dublin's LUAS: https://youtu.be/Ig_PW_-y5SU

  18. 4x4_Welder

    Alternative title for second bit- Phone zombie walks into bus

    I think the only way a transportation company can prevent this sort of incident is to not have buses on the street in the first place. It does look like that's the measure they are taking.

  19. DropBear Silver badge
    Trollface

    "the shuttle's stop speed has been reduced from 12mph to 9mph"

    ...and the AI driving it was presumably sent to the Stop Gear racetrack for some more training.

  20. DJO Silver badge

    "Automated vehicles' potential to save lives and reduce injuries is rooted in one critical and tragic fact: 94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error,"

    Well that's OK then, the software is written by humans and as a programmer I can tell you we never maik misteaks.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rage Against The [AI] Machine

  22. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    I want to see the pot

    The austrians are using to clarify those buses. I'm quite able to clarify butter on my stove, but.....

  23. Richard Scratcher
    Terminator

    Human error.

    Replacing a human driver with an AI machine is only a partial solution, which is bound to fail. They need to replace the passengers and pedestrians too. That way the vehicle sensor data can be shared quickly and easily, using a simple short-range wireless data link, so that sudden stops can be anticipated and collisions avoided.

    There would be many other potential advantages, such as pedestrians looking where they are going (rather than into their smartphones) and passengers avoiding turning up at the bus stop in groups larger than the capacity of the bus.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Human error.

      Or an app that monitors where you are and flashes a message that you are about to walk under a bus.

  24. Moog

    The thing is that it is likely that a human driver would have seen the person walking and not paying attention to the road, anticipated a collision and sounded their horn. They may even have applied the brakes gently as a precaution and to alert following traffic. The person may not have stepped out, but the action by the driver would at least have no effect at all. Their action could have added more time to avoid an accident and hopefully brought the bus to the attention of the person. A robot is very likely to spot the human but would have trouble anticipating their actions or level of awareness. With this lack of empathy that a machine has, a 'safe' option would be for software could assume all humans were likely to jump out suddenly and keep slowing down and beeping, but this would be impractial. In the language of advanced driving; Instead of relying on forward observation and planning the robot driver is reacting to events, and that is more likely to lead to an incident.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      > They may even have applied the brakes gently as a precaution and to alert following traffic

      If you did that here you would be stationary.

      Would you drive past a bunch of schoolkids pushing each other around on the pavement?

      Should the city totally grid lock because someone is walking looking at their phone?

  25. Alterhase

    Idea -- Networked Pedestrians

    Here's an idea:

    Don't let pedestrians walk around unless they have their phone turned on and sending their location continuously to sensors in autonomous vehicles, which could then avoid them.

    You could even add a flag to the data stream if the pedestrian was actively looking at the phone....

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