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11 September 2019

Washington Post game highlights AV flaws

First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com
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Mind the kangaroos! That is among the more surprising suggestions in a new entertainment which purports to illustrate the pitfalls of autonomous vehicles (AVs).

US media giant The Washington Post has created a short interactive game which “shows readers how autonomous cars function and breaks down the technology to educate viewers about their limitations and challenges”. These include sensor blind spots and confusion over what other road users are about to do.

The five-minute game takes the form of a journey in an AV to the airport, with the user able to take over the controls. The accompanying article - ‘How does an autonomous car work? Not so great’ - points out the problems (familiar to the ITS industry) of operating in a mixed traffic environment, including issues such as safety, insurance and liability.

As well as pointing out that AVs have ‘read’ wrongly the colour of traffic lights or failed to stop for broken-down vehicles, the game also features a kangaroo which bounces towards the vehicle.

“Despite how much engineers train their self-driving cars, there’s always the possibility they’ll encounter something unexpected,” the Post says. During a 2017 test in Australia, a car detected a kangaroo but “was confounded by its unusual hopping habits”.

The Post says that 1,400 self-driving vehicles are being tested in 36 states of the US as well as the District of Columbia. It quotes Adam Scow from Consumer Watchdog saying a lack of federal regulation on testing could “lead to disaster”.

Try the game yourself here.

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