Are we anywhere near to fully autonomous cars?

23rd October 2018
Posted By : Alex Lynn
Are we anywhere near to fully autonomous cars?


Addison Lee plans self-driving taxis by 2021. It will start by creating detailed maps that record the position of kerbs, road signs and traffic lights, in preparation for autonomous cars. Dr Sally Epstein, Machine Learning expert at Cambridge Consultants, applauds the ambition but cautions that full autonomy remains a long way off.

Epstein stated: “The goal of autonomous vehicles in the UK by 2021 is hugely ambitious goal, but consumers should know that we’re nowhere near to having genuinely driverless cars on public roads.

Amongst the challenges still to be overcome are:

  1. Mapping data will become out of date as soon as it is collected. Street furniture is constantly changing, with roadworks, accidents and more, while human movement in the same environment will remain stubbornly difficult to predict.
  2. Mapping data alone is not sufficient for the challenge. Maps must be intelligently integrated with other sensor data, in order to keep drivers and other road users safe. The best way to integrate this data remains an area of active research, by Cambridge Consultants and others.
  3. How will vehicle decision-making be understood after an incident? There must be adequate transparency in the system for consumers to trust a vehicle’s decision-making.

When fully autonomous vehicles do finally arrive, explaining how their decisions are made, particularly following accidents, will be much more important than any statistical proof that they experience fewer accidents that with humans at the wheel.”

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