View through windscreen of driverless car

Superior self-driving system developed with ‘common sense’ AI

Image credit: Dreamstime

Researchers believe they have developed a superior self-driving system that combines modern neural learning with “common-sense reasoning” to overcome some of the pitfalls of current autonomous systems.

“The developed AI method results in self-driving vehicles learning to understand the world much like humans. With understanding also comes the ability to explain decisions,” said researcher Mehul Bhatt from Örebro University in Sweden.

One example of how the new system is claimed to be superior is the ability to recognise that a cyclist hidden behind a car for a few seconds still exists until it reappears.

The approach enables self-driving vehicles to demonstrate a wide range of similar human-like common-sense capabilities which have not been achievable in self-driving vehicles or other AI technologies that are based on machine learning alone.

“Our method lets a self-driving vehicle understand a course of events, in this case, that visibility is blocked by a car and that after the car has passed, the cyclist will be visible again,” Bhatt said.

“This level of understanding is essential for self-driving vehicles to be traffic-ready under different driving conditions and environments.”

Security is another advantage of developing AI technologies that see and understand the world as humans do. This new AI method enables autonomous vehicles to show why they have made a particular decision in traffic – such as sudden braking – something that today’s autonomous vehicles cannot.

The researchers believe that self-driving systems should be “non-transparent” so that their decision-making processes can be fully understood. This will also help automakers and regulators to more easily study accidents, resolve insurance issues, and assist those with special needs.

“At the end of the day, standardisation is crucial. We need to achieve a shared understanding of the technologies in self-driving cars – as we do with the technologies in airplanes. At the moment, we’re far from it. This will only happen if we fully understand the technologies we’re developing,” Bhatt added.

“I want to contribute to the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that safely and legally take us from point A to point B while also fulfilling accessibility requirements and societal norms. Since we’d never allow a human to drive a car without a driver’s licence, I think we should put at least the same demands on autonomous vehicles.”

A recent poll showed that while the majority of people in the UK now have a favourable attitude to driverless vehicles, many would still feel more comfortable with having a human operator ready to take control at a moment’s notice.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles