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Jan 07, 2019 12:51:55

Driving behind a Waymo vehicle is weird

by @brandonwilson PATRON | 266 words | 223🔥 | 223💌

Brandon Wilson

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In the region of the United States where I live, a company called Waymo is testing self-driving vehicles. Waymo started as the Google Self-Driving Car project in 2009. These white SUV's and minivans are easy to spot with the logos and extra machinery bolted on the top and sides of the vehicle. There is always someone in the driver's seat to take over if needed, but I believe most of the time the car is supposed to be operating autonomously. 

A few times I have driven behind a Waymo vehicle and it is a weird experience. Right away I notice this vehicle behaves differently from other vehicles. The speed is different. There is unexpected acceleration and braking. Changing lanes seems to take longer than it should. It reminds me of driving behind a student driver. My general feeling when I am driving behind a Waymo vehicle is to get around it as soon as possible.

Humans know when to follow the rules of the road and when to break them. It is easy to see the value of experience when you compare a brand new driver to someone who has years of experience. I wonder how self-driving cars will "learn" and gain that experience. The fleet of Teslas is accumulating so much data, and I'm sure Tesla is using AI and machine learning to use that data to improve its systems. The question is how these cars will operate in a world where the majority of drivers are still human beings with varying degrees of experience. I look forward to seeing how this technology plays out.

  • 1

    @brandonwilson They are the ones standing out today and being "weird". Fear (or look forward to) the day when it will be the other way around!

    svenka avatar svenka | Jan 07, 2019 16:01:42
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      @stevenmarc I think I will say I look forward to it. Think of all the extra time freed up when you are not occupied with driving.

      Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | Jan 07, 2019 16:53:55
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    @brandonwilson They've definitely had some interesting ethics and moral questions about how to program these cars. e.g. if a single person car was on a collision course with a multi-person car, whose well being should the AI prioritize? Interesting stuff, can't wait to see how they'll tackle it!

    Lex Tan avatar Lex Tan | Jan 07, 2019 15:03:26
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      @lexc You are correct those are interesting dilemmas that need to be addressed. For example, will a "Baby On Board" sign be honored as a more valuable vehicle compared to one without it? I know some people (coincidentally bad drivers) who see those signs as targets!

      Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | Jan 07, 2019 16:56:02
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