On average, 3,287 people are killed every day in car accidents, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Elaine Herzberg became one of them, when, on the evening of March 18, 2018, as she was pushing her bicycle across the road outside the crosswalk in Tempe, Arizona, a car fatally hit her. Herzberg had the dubious honor of being the first pedestrian ever to be killed by an autonomous car.
Autonomous cars are supposed to be safer than human drivers, but we still worry about them more. This is not merely a tech or security issue, but also a psychological one. We need to know someone is responsible; we need to understand how the autonomous-insurance works; we want to have clear and reasonable regulation. We have to feel safe.
One of the promised advantages of autonomous cars is that they are better drivers than humans, but this is not enough. “We will be comfortable with machines making mistakes if the probability of mistakes is much, much smaller than the probability of mistakes of a human driver,” says Shai Shalev Shwartz, a professor at the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the CTO of Mobileye. “But if it will only be just slightly better than a human driver, then we will have a problem. We are getting close to the statistics of a human driver, but we strive to be a thousand times better than a human driver.”
To regulate driverless cars, we first have to demystify them. “It’s not regulating the end product, the car, this magic carpet. It’s not magical at all. It’s regulating technologies, and it’s nothing new,” explains Gadi Perl, research fellow at the Federmann Cyber Security Research Center.
Autonomously driven cars which make less accidents mean a sea change for the car insurance companies. For example, truly autonomous cars make decisions in a black box environment, which could lead to a situation where we cannot determine who is at fault following a car accident. “I think that’s the Armageddon scenario that everyone is scare of,” says Anat Lior, who explores autonomous vehicles challenges facing the insurance industry.
In this episode of the Lex Cybernetica, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Federmann Cyber Security Center’s podcast, we will talk autonomous cars with Anat Lior, Gadi Perl and Shai Shalev Shwartz, with Lex Cybernetica‘s host, Ido Kenan.
Our podcast is now on Stitcher and iTunes! You can listen to it via Android or IOS as well: