Driving a car is much more complicated that it may seem when you are navigating your way on the highway. Autonomous vehicles may even be better at it than you…
Traffic is chaos, it’s not a predictable, linear process. In fact, whenever you’re driving, you are improvising. That is why machine learning and autonomous vehicles are such a good match. This type of artificial intelligence can cope with unexpected circumstances.
Traffic is chaos.
What is machine learning
Machine learning (ML) refers to the ability of a computer to self-learn, without explicit instructions. It can perform certain tasks autonomously. These algorithms are data-driven and improve automatically through experience. They learn from historical data.
We need to feed the machine lots of data before it can learn and predict. In many cases, humans still learn faster. Yet, intelligence systems have more dimensions than humans. They can process huge datasets, recognize more patterns and make better predictions.
Meanwhile, recognizing patterns is different from understanding the meaning of these patterns. Machines have yet to progress into the realms of meaning and, ultimately, feelings.
See also: Supervised learning vs unsupervised learning.
Self-driving cars is a field where this self-learning ability is crucial: the system that controls the car – that drives the car – has to assess all the different traffic situations and determine what action to take.
A first-generation computer system would have needed an instruction for each and every traffic situation, which is impossible to do.
Self-learning systems don’t need all situations to be specified. They learn along the way, by combining the various scenarios that the programmers foresaw when they designed the program. Like you, it can improvise. Perhaps it cannot improvise as good as you, but these models are improving fast.
Potentially, driverless cars are even safer than most drivers. Human drivers cause thousands or car accidents each year. It’s a major cause of death. Yet, one autonomous car that causes a fatal accident gets a lot of attention. All in all it’s very likely that autonomous cars would substantially decrease the number of road accidents.