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Thread: Waymo simulation study shows hypothetical big reduction in fatal crashes

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    Default Waymo simulation study shows hypothetical big reduction in fatal crashes

    Waymo says autonomous cars could have prevented most fatal Chandler crashes in 10-year period

    Ryan Randazzo
    Arizona Republic

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/mone...es/4581203001/
    Last edited by Steve O; 04-08-2021 at 01:09 PM.

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    Wonder how many environmental variables were considered in the simulation... On the drunk driver example, what if there was another oncoming car behind the drunk driver? How would Waymo choose which head-on collision is "better"?

    You may recall the Uber autonomous car that struck and killed a woman crossing the road with her bike few years back? Here's a good article on the likely causes:

    https://www.theinformation.com/artic...bjects-on-road

    I suspect much has improved since this incident, but still, the machine is only as good as the hooman that programs it.

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    I've spent some of my career in autonomous vehicles and simulation.

    I'm extremely skeptical of their claims.

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    My IT perspective: sounds like bullshit that I'd expect from a PR person misrepresenting what you get with some modern-ish software development techniques like test-driven development and machine learning.

    You do your best to build a computer system that handles whatever input comes its way. And to test your work, you throw Test Cases at it, and make sure you get the Desired Results. You adjust your system until you get the Desired Results. And then you pray that the systen can also cope with new inputs after it Goes Into Production.

    If you're building an autonomous car, you collect data about past crashes and use that as some of your Test Cases. You make sure your simulation of those past tragedies results in your simulated auto avoiding the same simulated awful outcome. Real driver killed a Crazy Ivan? Use the simulator to try to ensure your auto executes an acceptable course of action in a simulated copy of that scenario.

    But in real life, you're gonna get a different Crazy Ivan, in a different situation. Maybe this new one is wearing grey and harder to see. Maybe his speed is less conssitent. Maybe there are two Ivans. Or three. Or it's an irregular intersection. Or there's significantly different weather. The fact that your simulation (which is likely incomplete -- are you really accounting for all factors? Debris on roadway? Asphalt condition? Impefect wheel balancing? Glare off oncoming windshields?) avoided the one well-documented Ivan from seven years ago doesn't mean you're gonna not crash into next week's Ivan. Especially if you pulled a Volkswagen emissions hack and tailored your system to the data about those past incidents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterw_diy View Post
    My IT perspective: sounds like bullshit that I'd expect from a PR person misrepresenting what you get with some modern-ish software development techniques like test-driven development and machine learning.

    You do your best to build a computer system that handles whatever input comes its way. And to test your work, you throw Test Cases at it, and make sure you get the Desired Results. You adjust your system until you get the Desired Results. And then you pray that the systen can also cope with new inputs after it Goes Into Production.

    If you're building an autonomous car, you collect data about past crashes and use that as some of your Test Cases. You make sure your simulation of those past tragedies results in your simulated auto avoiding the same simulated awful outcome. Real driver killed a Crazy Ivan? Use the simulator to try to ensure your auto executes an acceptable course of action in a simulated copy of that scenario.

    But in real life, you're gonna get a different Crazy Ivan, in a different situation. Maybe this new one is wearing grey and harder to see. Maybe his speed is less conssitent. Maybe there are two Ivans. Or three. Or it's an irregular intersection. Or there's significantly different weather. The fact that your simulation (which is likely incomplete -- are you really accounting for all factors? Debris on roadway? Asphalt condition? Impefect wheel balancing? Glare off oncoming windshields?) avoided the one well-documented Ivan from seven years ago doesn't mean you're gonna not crash into next week's Ivan. Especially if you pulled a Volkswagen emissions hack and tailored your system to the data about those past incidents.
    My parenting perspective: this sounds pretty much exactly like me sending either of my teen sons out in the car after teaching them to drive. Everyone operates from their own experience, and after that, everyone makes it up as they encounter things outside their experience, hoping for a good outcome. (This is not an endorsement of AI drivers; just noting that we learn and function in the same way, in many respects, if we’re really honest.)

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    I skimmed through the actual study. In all of the cases in which the original driver was drunk or drowsy or stupid, the autonomous car was not. Those crashes didn't happen, which I believe is a pretty fair assumption.
    I am 100% confident that autonomous cars will be involved in far fewer crashes than human drivers. I am also 100% sure they will be in some.
    The authors do not claim that autonomous cars will not crash, only that when they recreated this particular set of fatal crashes, no one died in the simulations.

    Sent from my H3123 using Tapatalk

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    "The simulated Waymo Driver completely avoided or mitigated 100% of crashes, aside from the crashes in which it was struck from behind, including every instance (20) that involved a pedestrian or cyclist,"

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    The authors do not claim that autonomous cars will not crash, only that when they recreated this particular set of fatal crashes, no one died in the simulations.

    The bumper sticker you posted in your first post implies something different -- that there is at least some significant decrease in accidents altogether and across the board. "Completely avoided"! Yes, this is the click-bait internet we live in, and details, nuances, and caveats matter, but that quote would lead the reader to believe that autonomous vehicles are the way to automotive safety.

    If their only standard is to decrease fatalities, I can do that by driving 5 mph. Or completely stopping whenever I detect something, but can't classify or identify it.

    We are a long way from unleashing autonomous vehicles on our roads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailrunner View Post
    If their only standard is to decrease fatalities, I can do that by driving 5 mph. Or completely stopping whenever I detect something, but can't classify or identify it.
    If we could just convince human drivers to just f'ing slow down or stop when they're confused we'd probably have 10k fewer deaths every year. But no, human drivers just keep truckin'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaCynic View Post
    Wonder how many environmental variables were considered in the simulation... On the drunk driver example, what if there was another oncoming car behind the drunk driver? How would Waymo choose which head-on collision is "better"?
    Your wondering can be ameliorated by reading the actual study.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailrunner View Post
    I've spent some of my career in autonomous vehicles and simulation.

    I'm extremely skeptical of their claims.
    Their claim is that when they simulated this set of fatal crashes in Arizona using a specific methodology, which is described in the study, none of them resulted in a fatality in the simulations.
    Which part of that are you skeptical of?

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