Reply to post: Re: Pointless and expensive technology

What will laws on self-driving cars look like? Think black boxes and 'minimum attention'

Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

Re: Pointless and expensive technology

Asking a human to sit attentively and watch a machine drive is probably the most idiotic notion ever thought up by a lawyer ever; it displays a profound lack of insight into how human attention works, and how computer control systems work (or should work). The only way the concept could be made worse is to force the human to walk in front of the car with a red flag.

It also completely misses out on some of the easy wins for autonomous driving systems: autonomous motorway driving. It has been found that if cars on a motorway can driver very close together, on the order of about a metre separation, then fuel use for all but the front vehicle drops dramatically. This separation is controllable for a MESH communicating computer talking to all other cars, but is impossible for a human.

So, what happens if the computer gets confused and hands over control in such a situation? Easy, a big pile-up. Either the car rear-ends the one in front, or the human jams on the brakes and gets rear-ended himself. Cue a lawyer pointing out the utter impossibility of a person being able to function, and the law getting thrown out by a court.

The way for a computer-controlled car to fail safe is simple: if it cannot safely control the car, it must slow down and come to a full stop, and only then when stationary may it hand over control. Nothing else is safe or sensible.

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