Rural testing for autonomous EVs

Discussion in 'General' started by JeffD, Jan 13, 2018.

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  1. JeffD

    JeffD New Member

    I live in a rural area, and the thought crossed my mind about risks for autonomous vehicles in rural areas. Deer get hit often enough for gas cars. I would figure more will get hit with quiet EVs.
    Are they doing enough testing for rural driving?

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  3. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    For three summers when I was in my late teens, I worked on my grandpa's farm in western Kansas. I drove a variety of vehicles, from a post-war Ford pickup to tractors to a combine harvester to a large truck hauling grain.

    It's hard for me to imagine self-driving systems replacing at least some of these situations. I'm sure we'll see tractors with "robot drivers", and I'm sure no farmer or farm hand is going to miss the tedium of driving a tractor in a straight line across a field over and over, in a grass-mowing pattern.

    What I have been unable to figure out is, if I want to drive across a field in a pickup on some errand or other, how I would be able to direct a self-driving pickup to do that. Everything I can think of, from giving verbal directions to using a smartphone app, seems awkward and imprecise.

    Maybe it's just my lack of imagination, but I think that for off-road travel, we're going to continue to see humans driving the vehicles, until robots get a lot more sophisticated in maneuvering than they are today.

    A documentary showing a DARPA challenge for robots performing several simple tasks, from climbing stairs to using a doorknob to open a door to using a hand-held electric drill to drill a hole, showed just how very far we are from having robots which can successfully mimic even rather simple human actions. No doubt someday, robot drivers will be better than humans at off-road driving. But I'm 62 years old, and I seriously question that I'll live to see that day.
  4. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I don't think the danger of hitting deer or other large wildlife is something that need concern programmers working on self-driving programs. Any self-driving system sophisticated enough to detect pedestrians entering the roadway, and reacting appropriately, will easily deal with larger animals.

    Where I think that the lack of testing on rural roads is going to show up is in the inability of self-driving cars to drive on gravel roads or even (horrors!) dirt roads. With no definite edge to the road, they are likely going to have a rather hard time at lane-centering! And dealing with encountering another vehicle coming the opposite direction, where there are no lane markings at all, may also prove to be a challenge.
  5. JeffD

    JeffD New Member

    Yes, dirt and gravel roads would be quite the challenge. It would be nice to see a prototype trying to take on those challenges for better or for worse. On The Grand Tour, Jeremy Clarkson said he wouldn't trust an autonomous vehicle until it could go down Bolivia's death road by itself. Granted he is not the most open minded when it comes to new things, but there are many people that want a similar level of trust before they are willing to ditch the steering wheel.

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  6. JyChevyVolt

    JyChevyVolt Active Member

    Map fusion with landmark detection will work in rural environment. As far as large animals, road kill.
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