March 23, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
In the latest issue of Driving author, David Booth argues convincingly that AI is going to have a large challenge on its hands accommodating to local driving customs and conditions.
Before fully autonomous cars take over our roads entirely, they will have to ‘learn’ to drive in varying weather conditions, learn local customs – for example, how closely do people obey the traffic lights and signs and rules of the roadways? Do they routinely race yellows and run reds? Are stop signs obeyed or ignored? Do pedestrians religiously follow their signals and use crosswalks or do they dive off the curb where ever it suits them?
Along with these challenges will come that of drivers learning how autonomous cars react to conditions. The rollout of fully autonomous vehicles has been slower than the industry expected but is marching on nonetheless. Efforts funded by industry and government to ‘train’ cars to drive are strong and locally Stratford, Ontario has been a leader in test zones.
Tech companies have found that winter poses a far greater challenge to AI than had been expected. The constantly varying conditions (bare road, snow-covered road, slushy roads, icy roads, black ice etc.) combined with ever-changing precipitation and visual abilities, obscured road markings, has proven problematic. Add in ever-changing roadside conditions (big now banks, pedestrians, small snowbanks, and salt and sand obscuring radar and camera lenses and the picture just gets worse.
Experts like Elon Musk who have predicted self-driving cars are just around the corner relied heavily on the millions of miles of testing and learning its cars have done in California and Arizona have not proven adequate in Canada. Many organizations have noted that Tesla technology which doe not use LiDAR sensors is not consistent.
It seems that full autonomy – where you can read or take a nap behind the wheel, is a long way away yet.
Some experts are predicting that it will be at least 10 years before there are fully autonomous cars on Canadian roads. There will be some level of autonomous driving capability under strictly defined conditions before then but moving to full automation is not in the near future.
There are certainly opportunities for Canada to become a global leader in autonomous driving research. Our varied climate combined with existing testing, and R&D infrastructure, along with several universities which produce highly trained and educated engineering professionals means we are well-positioned to lead.
Other issues remain in autonomous driving. Not the least of which revolve around legislation, and insurance. The questions of liability in autonomous car accidents, personal injury cases and even death are far from established.
If you have been injured in a car crash or injured using your autonomous vehicle you should contact the highly skilled lawyers at Deutschmann Personal Injury and Disability Law immediately for a free initial consultation.