Executive Briefings

Driverless Transport? Don't Take Your Hands Off the Wheel Just Yet

Jitendra Malik, a researcher in computer vision for three decades, doesn't own a Tesla, but he has advice for people who do. "Knowing what I know about computer vision, I wouldn't take my hands off the steering wheel," he said.

Malik, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was referring to a fatal crash in May of a Tesla electric car equipped with its Autopilot driver-assistance system. An Ohio man was killed when his Model S car, driving in the Autopilot mode, crashed into a tractor-trailer.

Federal regulators are still investigating the accident. But it appears likely that the man placed too much confidence in Tesla's self-driving system. The same may be true of a fatal Tesla accident in China that was reported last week. Other automakers like Ford, which last week announced its plan to produce driverless cars by 2021, are taking a go-slow approach, saying the technology for even occasional hands-free driving is not ready for many traffic situations.

The Tesla accident in May, researchers say, was not a failure of computer vision. But it underscored the limitations of the science in applications like driverless cars despite remarkable progress in recent years, fueled by digital data, computer firepower and software inspired by the human brain.

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Malik, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was referring to a fatal crash in May of a Tesla electric car equipped with its Autopilot driver-assistance system. An Ohio man was killed when his Model S car, driving in the Autopilot mode, crashed into a tractor-trailer.

Federal regulators are still investigating the accident. But it appears likely that the man placed too much confidence in Tesla's self-driving system. The same may be true of a fatal Tesla accident in China that was reported last week. Other automakers like Ford, which last week announced its plan to produce driverless cars by 2021, are taking a go-slow approach, saying the technology for even occasional hands-free driving is not ready for many traffic situations.

The Tesla accident in May, researchers say, was not a failure of computer vision. But it underscored the limitations of the science in applications like driverless cars despite remarkable progress in recent years, fueled by digital data, computer firepower and software inspired by the human brain.

Read Full Article