Before everyone gets too enthralled with the utopian society self-driving cars will supposedly create, it’s a good idea to stop and realize they’re far from perfect. Oh sure, different automakers and the governor of Washington have shot their mouths off about how Level 5 tech is only a few years away. Meanwhile, yet another problem has come up in research, and it’s a simple hack kids can and will do.
I say another problem, because already autonomous cars have struggled with the jumping patterns of kangaroos, the erratic movements of cyclists on the side of the road, and more.
OpenAI, a nonprofit research firm, discovered that slight changes in a street sign can cause an autonomous car to completely misread what it says. That’s bad, because whoever’s doing the driving needs to read signs, or the result might be a horrible accident. Would you let your buddy who can’t read and understand street signs drive you around? Then why would you do the same with a program with the same problems?
This isn’t a trashing of autonomous vehicles. What this and other research shows is Level 5 tech is more than just a few short years away. At least, if we want cars that won’t get confused easily.