10 votes

Somerset cattle grid mistaken for wall by car sensors

12 comments

  1. [6]
    Thra11
    Link
    It sounds like they've papered over the problem in this specific location, but I find it a bit worrying that these cars are allowed on the roads[1], given that not only are their sensors getting...

    It sounds like they've papered over the problem in this specific location, but I find it a bit worrying that these cars are allowed on the roads[1], given that not only are their sensors getting false positives from existing road infrastructure, but they apparently aren't detecting the "obstacle" far enough in advance to brake safely.

    [1] It doesn't mention what make of cars are affected, so I'm just assuming they are being driven legally. I guess it's technically possible that the cars are actually only road legal with the auto-brake-harshly-and-leave-the-road feature turned off.

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      emdash
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      To my understanding, this isn't what Tesla drivers would call TACC ("Traffic Aware Cruise Control", aka smart braking based on the vehicles in front of you whilst in cruise control), but rather...

      but they apparently aren't detecting the "obstacle" far enough in advance to brake safely.

      To my understanding, this isn't what Tesla drivers would call TACC ("Traffic Aware Cruise Control", aka smart braking based on the vehicles in front of you whilst in cruise control), but rather implementations of AEB (Advanced Emergency Braking) that is becoming legally mandated in many European countries soon. Basically, much more primitive forms of computer awareness designed as a backstop for truly emergency situations where the only goal is to save the occupants inside, no matter if there's damage to the car. So I wouldn't expect the cars confronting this scenario to brake safely—in fact, by design they only brake unsafely.

      That being said it would be interesting to see how TACC-like software—or Tesla's autopilot—handles this. It seems to me this is the first example of what I can only describe as the "iPhone effect" for vehicle autonomy (I'm sure there's a better term), whereby instead of our phones conforming to the world around us, like fitting in our pockets; the phones dictate the design of the rest of the world: jean pockets got bigger, especially for women, after the introduction of smartphones.

      I'm feeling increasingly confident Level 4 SAE is going to be solved not just by advances in computer vision and machine learning, but by also making the transportation world around us "simpler" (think: modified signs, elimination of problem-causing road designs, reductions in blind spots, etc).

      7 votes
      1. Thra11
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the pointer to AEB (Apparently, AEB is actually Autonomous Emergency Braking, although AEBS is Advanced Emergency Braking System)! I guess in the absence of a 'perfect' AEB system, it's...

        Thanks for the pointer to AEB (Apparently, AEB is actually Autonomous Emergency Braking, although AEBS is Advanced Emergency Braking System)! I guess in the absence of a 'perfect' AEB system, it's a case of weighing up all the situations in which AEB is beneficial against the occasional situation where it makes things worse. I suppose a "simple" system could never brake in advance, as it can't tell the difference between a wall which the car is going to crash into and a wall which is currently in front of the car where the road bends.

        Slightly offtopic: BBC articles often seem to suffer from this weird issue where they avoid technical and specialist language to an absurd degree. In this case, we have an article that's essentially about AEB, but doesn't once mention the term. In the past I've read BBC science news articles which "simplify" the science to the point where somebody familiar with the subject can't actually tell what the article is trying to describe. Explaining science to a layperson is hard (harder than explaining science to a scientist), but I feel like generally a scientist reading an article written for a layperson should be thinking, "Well it's a bit simplistic, but it gets the general idea across", not, "I have literally no idea what this is trying to describe".

        4 votes
      2. [3]
        Autoxidation
        Link Parent
        I don't think autopilot, which is essentially TACC + lane keeping, would handle it at all. The forward radar would likely detect the structure and slow down or stop. Now, the very limited beta of...

        I don't think autopilot, which is essentially TACC + lane keeping, would handle it at all. The forward radar would likely detect the structure and slow down or stop.

        Now, the very limited beta of FSD (Full Self Driving) would be interesting, but I don't know if it would navigate this well either, given how narrow it is. I wouldn't put it out of the realm of the possibility though.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          emdash
          Link Parent
          Don't Tesla's still have that issue where if they detect a static object, they actually just continue driving towards it until they careen into it? That's been a cause of a number of high profile...

          The forward radar would likely detect the structure and slow down or stop.

          Don't Tesla's still have that issue where if they detect a static object, they actually just continue driving towards it until they careen into it? That's been a cause of a number of high profile deaths, including Walter Huang, an Apple engineer.

          2 votes
          1. Autoxidation
            Link Parent
            Have their been any deaths recently? The ones I am aware of were a few years ago, and the algorithms see constant updates. I believe the issue with the radar ignoring objects was on highways, and...

            Have their been any deaths recently? The ones I am aware of were a few years ago, and the algorithms see constant updates. I believe the issue with the radar ignoring objects was on highways, and these barriers occur on smaller roads.

            2 votes
  2. [6]
    Grendel
    Link
    Where I'm from cattle grids are always in driveways, not on the roads themselves. Can anyone shed light on why in the world you'd put one on the road proper?

    Where I'm from cattle grids are always in driveways, not on the roads themselves. Can anyone shed light on why in the world you'd put one on the road proper?

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      Thra11
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Near Minehead is Exmoor, which is a large area of open moorland grazed by Exmoor ponies, sheep and some cattle. Some roads traverse the moor. Having fences running alongside the length of the...

      Near Minehead is Exmoor, which is a large area of open moorland grazed by Exmoor ponies, sheep and some cattle. Some roads traverse the moor. Having fences running alongside the length of the roads across the moor would a) stop the animals from moving from one part of the moor to the other and b) be expensive to install and maintain. Instead, there are cattle grids at the edges of the moor where the road enters the open moor to keep the animals on the moor without impeding vehicular access. This sort of arrangement is fairly common on moorlands and other similar areas around the UK.

      Edit: It's possibly this cattlegrid, although it could be this one on the other side.
      Edit2: Actually, I think it's this one.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        Grendel
        Link Parent
        That makes sense, I'm from the Midwest US where we don't have open moorlands. Around here everything is private property and is fenced along the road.

        That makes sense, I'm from the Midwest US where we don't have open moorlands. Around here everything is private property and is fenced along the road.

        3 votes
        1. j3n
          Link Parent
          Cattle guards like this are quite common in the Western US as well. They're most often encountered on the borders of Federal land that is sometimes leased for grazing but also open to the public.

          Cattle guards like this are quite common in the Western US as well. They're most often encountered on the borders of Federal land that is sometimes leased for grazing but also open to the public.

          6 votes
    2. [2]
      Tardigrade
      Link Parent
      I wonder if that's the exact problem. The people who programmed the cars didn't do so in places where cattle grids are a common feature on the roads and so this situation was an edge case they...

      I wonder if that's the exact problem. The people who programmed the cars didn't do so in places where cattle grids are a common feature on the roads and so this situation was an edge case they didn't test for.

      3 votes
      1. EscReality
        Link Parent
        Obviously they do not mention the specific make, but if its Tesla that would not be the case. Cattle Guards in roadways are standard everywhere in the US with open pasture.

        Obviously they do not mention the specific make, but if its Tesla that would not be the case. Cattle Guards in roadways are standard everywhere in the US with open pasture.

        3 votes