RE: Communication is key: PH Blog

RE: Communication is key: PH Blog

Tuesday 20th February

PH Footnote: Communication is key

Driverless cars may understand their environment, but how will their environment understand them?



"If I walked out in front of a Google car travelling at 60mph, I have no real appreciation of how the vehicle will behave, so I'm effectively putting myself at a disadvantage." Ben Byford, a computer ethics commentator is quoted saying in an in-depth report on alphr.

No shit, you might be tempted to say, but Byford does infact raise an interesting point. How autonomous cars will receive and interpret information is a subject which has been debated ad nauseum, how they will communicate back with us has been discussed rather less. Of course, new laws will be introduced and highway codes altered to help people adapt to having autonomous machines on the streets, but when a pedestrian attempts to cross the road or a human driver tries to edge out of a junction, the behaviour of autonomous cars may be a little harder to comprehend.

In cities where jay-walking isn't illegal, or where pedestrians have priority, those on foot tend to look for physical cues from the driver - be it a flash of the lights or a wave of the hand - to show them that they've been seen and can cross, move out, or merge. But if a car isn't piloted by a human driver how are those physical cues going to be represented? The machine itself, through deep learning, may comprehend what is in its peripheral vision and what action to take, but how will it relay to the child on his bike or the pensioner crossing the road what that action is to be?


Autonomous car makers, if left to their own devices, would of course prefer a network of roads upon which only driverless cars are allowed, with no interference from pedestrians or cyclists being possible. According to Professor Adam Millard-Ball of the University of California, this may lead to the city planners of the future altering some streets to promote pedestrian use whilst removing pavements and cycle lanes from others, thereby reducing autonomous cars' need to interact with humans at all. That's not a realistic prospect in every city though, meaning manufacturers still need to come up with other solutions for vehicle-to-pedestrian communication.

In a white paper by roboticists at Duke University, Michael Clamann carried out an experiment in which a van showed a display similar to that of a traffic crossing with 'walk' and 'don't walk' signals, as well as a speed display. "The idea was that the participants would use the speedometer to determine whether it was safe to cross... pedestrians relied on old habits when interacting with new technologies."


Robert Brunner, an industrial designer who worked at Apple, says self-driving cars should go further, however, inspiring confidence whilst being friendly and inviting. To that end, Honda revealed two beautiful EVs at Frankfurt last year, the Urban EV Concept and Sports EV Concept both of which include front grille displays that can show charging updates, greetings and, most usefully, alerts. Nissan also recently tested its 'intention indicator' which uses LED strips to communicate. When pedestrians or cyclists are nearby, the strip shines red, signalling that the car is aware of them, while a display shows messages such as "After you", and other companies are looking at even more unique methods, including using emojis and the car's horn to display those humanistic cues.

As it stands, though, companies haven't yet cracked the ideal way for autonomous cars to communicate with us. We learn how to communicate from a very young age and the earlier people interact with technology, the easier it is to communicate with it. But as autonomous technology takes to the road, there will be a crucial transition period during which young and old alike will have to get to grips with encountering it in environments not yet optimised for that occurrence. So, how do you think it should be done? Are extra lights enough, or will they just create confusion? Would you understand what a car meant if it was displaying an emoji? Is there even any need for communication at all? Let us know what you think.

 

 

   
Author
Discussion

Peanus

Original Poster:

81 posts

38 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
I threw up in my mouth a little when I read the bit that manufacturers have trialed using emojis as a war to communicate with peds.

E65Ross

20,910 posts

145 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
Interesting the article has the word st in it, which is frowned upon in the forums...

Aside though, interesting topic for sure.

Dan_1981

13,450 posts

132 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
PH could take a leaf out of the headline here and try communicating with their own users.......

fezst

199 posts

57 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
There is still a moral problem with what the autonomous vehicle does in a scenario where it must decide whether to crash into pedestrians or potentially kill the driver. One that I can't see being solved unless pedestrians are completely removed from every road and all cars on the road are autonomous.

This is the least of our worries with creating fully autonomous vehicles

Edited by fezst on Tuesday 20th February 13:18

Dale487

726 posts

56 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all

Surely its not about what the techies want to do, its about what the law makers allow/mandate them to do - look at Infiniti's steering by wire, they have to a back up normal rack in case as the law states there must be a physical link between the steering wheel & rack.

Plus if the driver-less car decides what to do in the event of a potential accident and someone is hurt or there is damage to someones property because of a decision the car made and you the "owner" have no way of over riding the programming, you can't be negligent - surely the car companies will need to be insured against this instead of the "owner". Fully driver-less cars are going to need masses of legislation as well as potentially changing the highway code, road traffic act and how the insurance industry work massively.

And making driver-less car only zones, whats the point? Remove pedestrians, bikes & the like, normal cars would be almost equally safe at city centre speeds.


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Yipper

5,964 posts

23 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
Humans already communicate, interact and work with autonomous vehicles in mines and factories all over the world and have been doing so for a few years. Just copy what they do.

Was in a factory in Turkey a few weeks ago. They use driverless vehicles for transporting component parts all across the site. Some run on preset tracks, while others are free to roam anywhere in geofenced zones. They simply beep, flash and shout, if you get too close. Workers work with and around them every day and they operate just fine.

samoht

758 posts

79 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all

Interestingly, a couple of the most common communications - waving someone to go ahead and flashing headlights with the same intent - are explicitly forbidden in official driving instruction. Waving risks the other person feeling obliged to go and potentially being hit by another vehicle, while headlight flashing is officially a synonym for blowing the horn, ie 'I'm coming through'. Not that it makes any difference to what human drivers actually do, though.

Since we already have indicators to communicate turning left and right, I think we only really need to communicate forwards/backwards intent. A light for 'going' (moving off, accelerating or continuing) and another light for 'stopping' (remaining at rest, stopping or slowing down and being prepared to stop) would probably suffice.

In terms of displaying speed, in Japan all HGVs carry three green lights above the cab facing forwards, which light up at various speeds. So if you see a truck approaching with all three lights lit, you know it's going (relatively) quickly. So there is prior art in this regard.
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-usage-of-three-g...

speedking31

2,364 posts

69 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
Yipper said:
Humans already communicate, interact and work with autonomous vehicles in mines and factories all over the world and have been doing so for a few years. Just copy what they do.

Was in a factory in Turkey a few weeks ago. They use driverless vehicles for transporting component parts all across the site. Some run on preset tracks, while others are free to roam anywhere in geofenced zones. They simply beep, flash and shout, if you get too close. Workers work with and around them every day and they operate just fine.
Not ideal at night in a residential area.

unsprung

2,395 posts

57 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
The state of Arizona is one of the places that wants to be known as an innovation hub for the development of autonomous vehicles and related systems. Their effort is aided by, among other things, the grid style of layout and generous cut of streets that one sees in newer US cities. Also, sunshine is at 300 days per year. No snow.

I'm a fan. But I'm also scratching my head at the "what ifs" as we put beta vehicles, carrying passengers, on public roads. Whatever moral questions we face with this technology, and despite the nascent status of what we now call "autonomous", in several locations round the world, people are pressing on.

This year, in Arizona, it is claimed that a commercial taxi service will be launched.




Yipper

5,964 posts

23 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
speedking31 said:
Yipper said:
Humans already communicate, interact and work with autonomous vehicles in mines and factories all over the world and have been doing so for a few years. Just copy what they do.

Was in a factory in Turkey a few weeks ago. They use driverless vehicles for transporting component parts all across the site. Some run on preset tracks, while others are free to roam anywhere in geofenced zones. They simply beep, flash and shout, if you get too close. Workers work with and around them every day and they operate just fine.
Not ideal at night in a residential area.
People / drivers / passengers already beep, flash and shout now if you walk in front of their car. It's no different to autonomous vehicles, just a computer doing it rather than a human.

WokkaWokka

418 posts

72 months

Tuesday 20th February
quotequote all
Dan_1981 said:
PH could take a leaf out of the headline here and try communicating with their own users.......
I don’t work for PH or any of their affiliates however I am genuinely interested in what you mean? There does seem to be a large number of people who tend to make comments like this and that is totally fine of course but could you elaborate you never know they might listen to you Dan! : )

Dan_1981

13,450 posts

132 months

Wednesday 21st February
quotequote all
WokkaWokka said:
Dan_1981 said:
PH could take a leaf out of the headline here and try communicating with their own users.......
I don’t work for PH or any of their affiliates however I am genuinely interested in what you mean? There does seem to be a large number of people who tend to make comments like this and that is totally fine of course but could you elaborate you never know they might listen to you Dan! : )
A few years ago PH was a place where the management were very involved in the day to day running & usage of the forums (i'm still talking Haymarket days)

If there was an issue with the site, the techies were very upfront and responsive and at least tried to fix the issues.

Discussion around changes were prevalent.

There were some good initiatives to take feedback from the users - different forums, feedback events and as I mentioned there seemed to be a two way process.

These days changes are introduced seemingly without discussion, they often don't work and when they don't work nothing is done about the problems.

Feedback is none existent, there is no presence from the management team.

Progress & development seems to have vanished.


And yes I know... it's a free website. I could ps off, but I like it here - it just used to be run better..... and don't forget i'm not talking about the 'good old days' here - just a few years ago.

So if Haymarket ARE listening then you know... i'd be more than happy to provide more feedback!

WokkaWokka

418 posts

72 months

Wednesday 21st February
quotequote all
Dan_1981 said:
WokkaWokka said:
Dan_1981 said:
PH could take a leaf out of the headline here and try communicating with their own users.......
I don’t work for PH or any of their affiliates however I am genuinely interested in what you mean? There does seem to be a large number of people who tend to make comments like this and that is totally fine of course but could you elaborate you never know they might listen to you Dan! : )
A few years ago PH was a place where the management were very involved in the day to day running & usage of the forums (i'm still talking Haymarket days)

If there was an issue with the site, the techies were very upfront and responsive and at least tried to fix the issues.

Discussion around changes were prevalent.

There were some good initiatives to take feedback from the users - different forums, feedback events and as I mentioned there seemed to be a two way process.

These days changes are introduced seemingly without discussion, they often don't work and when they don't work nothing is done about the problems.

Feedback is none existent, there is no presence from the management team.

Progress & development seems to have vanished.


And yes I know... it's a free website. I could ps off, but I like it here - it just used to be run better..... and don't forget i'm not talking about the 'good old days' here - just a few years ago.

So if Haymarket ARE listening then you know... i'd be more than happy to provide more feedback!
beer

xjay1337

10,730 posts

51 months

Wednesday 21st February
quotequote all
Dan_1981 said:
PH could take a leaf out of the headline here and try communicating with their own users.......
Depends if the forum drives over you without warning.

captain_cynic

3,210 posts

28 months

Wednesday 21st February
quotequote all
Yipper said:
Humans already communicate, interact and work with autonomous vehicles in mines and factories all over the world and have been doing so for a few years. Just copy what they do.

Was in a factory in Turkey a few weeks ago. They use driverless vehicles for transporting component parts all across the site. Some run on preset tracks, while others are free to roam anywhere in geofenced zones. They simply beep, flash and shout, if you get too close. Workers work with and around them every day and they operate just fine in controlled areas.
There, fixed that for you.

As you pointed out they're either on rails or secured zones where there are warning signs and workers are trained not to loiter. We can barely prevent trained adults from entering these areas... you cant expect a dog or child to understand this.

Just this morning I had to brake hard because a grandma stepped out onto the road. I'm sure she didn't intend to step out in front of a moving vehicle (she did the sorry wave) but its things all drivers need to be ready to deal with, when it comes to split second decisions based on incomplete data, meat based is better than silicon and will be for some time.

shoestring7

5,698 posts

179 months

Wednesday 21st February
quotequote all
samoht said:
........ headlight flashing is officially a synonym for blowing the horn, ie 'I'm coming through'. .
Most drivers have no idea of the correct use of either:

Highway Code said:
Rule 112

The horn. Use only while your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively. You MUST NOT use your horn

while stationary on the road
when driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11.30 pm and 7.00 am

except when another road user poses a danger.


Rule 110
Flashing headlights. Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users
SS7

unsprung

2,395 posts

57 months

Thursday 22nd February
quotequote all
WokkaWokka said:
Dan_1981 said:
WokkaWokka said:
Dan_1981 said:
PH could take a leaf out of the headline here and try communicating with their own users.......
I don’t work for PH or any of their affiliates however I am genuinely interested in what you mean? There does seem to be a large number of people who tend to make comments like this and that is totally fine of course but could you elaborate you never know they might listen to you Dan! : )
A few years ago PH was a place where the management were very involved in the day to day running & usage of the forums (i'm still talking Haymarket days)

If there was an issue with the site, the techies were very upfront and responsive and at least tried to fix the issues.

Discussion around changes were prevalent.

There were some good initiatives to take feedback from the users - different forums, feedback events and as I mentioned there seemed to be a two way process.

These days changes are introduced seemingly without discussion, they often don't work and when they don't work nothing is done about the problems.

Feedback is none existent, there is no presence from the management team.

Progress & development seems to have vanished.


And yes I know... it's a free website. I could ps off, but I like it here - it just used to be run better..... and don't forget i'm not talking about the 'good old days' here - just a few years ago.

So if Haymarket ARE listening then you know... i'd be more than happy to provide more feedback!
beer
+1


canucklehead

377 posts

79 months

Thursday 22nd February
quotequote all
Lord help us, what is wrong with the people working on autonomous vehicles? In every aspect of their development, they are condescending and patronising in equal measure to all of us plebs who will end up having to live with their creations. Cutesy emojis, playmobiil lighting and messaging are bad enough (not to mention the Fisher-Price appearance of many of their designs - Google's being the worst), but, ugh, the hubristic belief that cities should be fundamentally rearranged to allow their flawed creations to work safely is absolutely idiotic. We know from experience with cars that cities designed by focusing on vehicle movements are cities that people hate to live in, as the streetscape only comes to life with actual people on it. Brasilia is probably the most notorious example of this, but many cities globally are scarred by the post-war idealism of uniquely car-oriented urban environments. Now AV designers are falling into similar traps in pursuit of their monomanic dreams.

Human nature is what it is. If AV designers fail to recognise that, they are doomed to failure. All I see from articles like this one is evidence that AV design is largely being driven by idealistic fanboys who are simply ignoring the hard questions that such machines raise.