Intel Says Aggressive A-Hole Self-Driving Cars Could Help Improve Traffic Safety

All drivers have been there before where someone whips in front of you from a merge lane into a gap barely large enough for their car, and you want to scream. Intel and its subsidiary Mobileye think that one way to solve some of the problems that self-driving cars have today is by making them much more aggressive and essentially turning them into a-holes that will shoot into that a small gap in traffic, with a level of precision. One of the challenges for autonomous cars right now is that the AI inside makes them act like your (stereotypical) Grandmother.

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Intel wants to cure that nervous behavior using something it calls the Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) program. RSS is meant to help the autonomous vehicle act like an assertive human driver. According to Intel, the more assertive autonomous cars will make for safer and more freely-flowing traffic.

The challenge with the AI in self-driving cars today is that they only make decisions when the calculations the vehicles constantly run show crash probability is extremely low. That cautiousness equates to missed opportunities to make turns when a gap presents itself and leads to frustrated passengers. In the RSS system, the AI is deterministic, not probabilistic. Being deterministic gives the autonomous vehicle a playbook of sorts that gives rules defining whats sale and unsafe in a driving situation.

This rulebook will allow the AI inside the vehicle to make more aggressive maneuvers right up to the line that separates safe and unsafe. Intel notes that it has yet to work with insurance companies and regulators to formalize the role of RSS in assigning fault after a crash. However, the system could be a tool to help investigators determine if the fault in an accident lies with the autonomous ride or the human driver of the other car.

Intel says that RSS will allow the autonomous vehicle to do things like slowly creep into a lane when traffic is deadlocked, and drivers won't let the car merge. The system will also allow the autonomous vehicle to brake if a human driver in front starts to drift into its lane. RSS wouldn't try and avoid an accident if that avoidance would cause another accident. In other self-driving car news, Tesla recently added the capabiltiy for its cars to change lanes with no human input and claimed its new self-driving comptuer is the most powerful in the land.