1925: Self-Driving Car Milestones
|Self-Driving Car Milestones|
Title text: I'm working on a car capable of evaluating arbitrarily complex boolean expressions on "honk if [...]" bumper stickers and responding accordingly.
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This comic is a list of milestones for self-driving cars. Some have already been achieved, others are still being worked on, while others are facetious "milestones".
- Automatic emergency brakes: this is another reference to how hard it can be to program human-obvious stuff (add link https://xkcd.com/1425/). A self driving car has to be able to distinguish a danger (cliff, person on foot, other cars coming the wrong way/doing weird stuff) from either the side of the road, the background, the other cars or even a light pole safely standing on the side of the road. Then the car also has to decide whether turn around, just slow down (as danger is not imminent) or actually do the strong brake (and optimally decide what would be the most effective, taking into account weather conditions, road type and traffic). There are big potential advantages for self driving cars, in case of success: computers don't panic, would have faster reaction times than humans, and would have more reliable judgment than humans (add link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_car#Safety)
- Highway lane-keeping: sometimes, especially on highways where road delimitations might be faint or absent (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/11/Route_66_2073773569_7b3fae3b91_b.jpg/220px-Route_66_2073773569_7b3fae3b91_b.jpg) or when lane markings could have faded away, a self driving car programmed to pilot based on road markings would have issues holding to the good side of the road. this is a bigger problem than in cities as cars move faster on highways, so the danger detection mentioned above might not manage to detect danger in time while breaking or avoiding the obstacle needs to be anticipated much more.
- Self-parking: already implemented in recent normal cars, that feature is important for the car not to stay in the road after use , and is sometimes considered as a difficult maneuver by to-be-drivers (citation?) as it requires a good "feeling" of the car dimensions, as well as of distances and maneuverability of the car. (the latter parameters being easy to compute, with radar and back-camera aide, is made rather easy for computers (citation?))
- Full highway autonomy: the ability for a car to drive itself on a highway. As of 2017, there are plans (add link http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/a13615577/self-driving-cars-lane-wisconsin/) under consideration to set highway lanes aside for self-driving cars, but this milestone would require such a car to be able to operate on a highway that also has human-driven cars - as well as wildlife, pedestrians, debris, and other such obstacles should they enter the highway.
- First sex in a self-driving car: this is not a milestone for the cars themselves, but just the age-old  practice of having sex in cars, performed in a car that happens to be self-driving. Whether or not this would happen while the car is in motion (other than that induced by the passengers) and/or on a public road is not specified, though both are implied. Given the nature of human sexuality [no citation needed], it is quite likely this has already happened , but no one recorded the incident.
- Full trips with no input from driver: the main point of self-driving cars, allowing all humans within to act as passengers. As of 2017, self-driving cars require a human to be able to take over just in case, but any such trip where the human never actually took control would qualify for this milestone.
- Full trips by empty cars: a more severe version of the above, since with no humans present, no human can take control. This could be considered fulfilled by the DARPA Grand Challenge (add link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Grand_Challenge), as the challenges are racing competitions of autonomous cars with no humans on board.
- Self-refueling of empty cars: this would either require a robotic fuel station (thus, able to refuel cars with humans inside as well), or an ordinary full-service fuel station (that is, one where the station's employee performs the refueling of the car) that happens to service a self-driving car with no humans aboard (which could be arranged as a publicity stunt).
- An empty car wandering the highways for months or years until someone notices the credit card fuel charges: the first completely facetious milestone of the list (since "first sex", despite having little to do with self-driving cars, has probably happened). Cars are expensive  enough that, were one to drive itself off and wander, some effort would be made to track it down. As this would require the self-refueling milestone, local fuel stations could be alerted to look for the "rogue" car - and in any case, whatever payment method is used to pay for the fuel would be traced.
- Cars that read other cars' bumper stickers before deciding whether to cut them off: another facetious milestone, implying self-driving cars might obtain artificial intelligence and political opinions that might override safety and efficiency of transit, so this seems unlikely to actually happen.
- Autonomous engine revving at red lights: mimicing the human practice. This has probably been done for show at a race, but that is a robot following a programmed routine that has nothing directly to do with self-driving.
- Self-loathing cars: this would require cars to become sentient enough to understand, and have negative opinions, about themselves. Depending on one's definition, though, self-diagnostic software might qualify, as they would be running on a car's computer and express a negative opinion about the car (albeit limited to the context of the car needing maintenance).
- Autonomous canyon jumping: although it seems unlikely that a navigation routine would ever decide that jumping a canyon is part of an optimal route, a car could be programmed to jump a canyon as part of a stunt or show, with no human driver (or any other human aboard) at the time of the jump. It is questionable how "autonomous" such a car would be, though.
- Cars capable of arguing about the trolley problem on facebook: the trolley problem is a well-known thought experiment in ethics, in which a person must choose between passively allowing several people to die, or actively causing a single person to die. Such a choice could plausibly be forced on the computer of self-driving car. For example, if the car could avoid a high-speed collision only by running down a pedestrian.
- Evaluating arbitrarily complex boolean expressions on "honk if [...]" bumper stickers and responding accordingly (title text): as with the cut-off milestone, this implies development of artificial intelligence unrelated to the basic functions of a car, though still imitating human drivers' behavior. This a joke about Boolean satisfiability, as evaluating an arbitrarily complex bumper sticker and determining whether to honk is NP-complete.
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Upcoming and recently-achieved
Self-driving car milestones
- Automatic emergency braking
- Highway lane-keeping
- Full highway autonomy
- First sex in a self-driving car
- Full trips with no input from driver
- Full trips by empty cars
- An empty car wandering the highways for months or years until someone notices the credit card fuel charges
- Cars that read other cars' bumper stickers before deciding whether to cut them off
- Autonomous engine revving at red lights
- Self-loathing cars
- Autonomous canyon jumping
- Cars capable of arguing about the trolley problem on facebook
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