Intel and Mobileye proffer new mathematical formula for driverless car safety

Intel and Mobileye have developed a mathematical model which aims to improve driverless car safety – and absolve autonomous vehicles of blame should the worst happen.

As a paper from the companies outline, the solution is to “set clear rules for fault in advance based on a mathematical model… if the rules are predetermined, then the investigation can be very short and based on facts, and responsibility can be determined conclusively.”

The safe distance formula, for posterity, is:

To explain, L is the average length of the vehicle, p is the response time of the rear vehicle, V indicates the velocities of the rear and front vehicles respectively, a represents maximum acceleration and braking respectively, and Tf and Tr are the times for the front and rear cars to reach a full stop.

In other words, if all the rules are applied, then the safe distance around the car in question from vehicles in front or behind it, then if the distance is violated it will not be the fault of the autonomous car. The driverless vehicle can ‘calculate the safe corridor around other vehicles and will never make a command that violates that space’, the report adds.

In a separate post, Kathy Winter, VP and general manager of Intel’s automated driving solutions division, discussed the importance of trusting autonomous vehicle technology. “Without a doubt, autonomous cars will be much better drivers than humans,” wrote Winter. “They’ll have a 360-degree view and the ability to precisely detect the speed and distance of other nearby people and objects. And they’ll save lives.

“As I see it, societal acceptance will eventually determine how quickly we reach our driverless future,” Winter added. “It’s one of three things – technology and regulation are the other two – that will ultimately decide the fate of autonomous cars. We can build the very best vehicles with flawless technology, but if the public won’t climb inside, the industry won’t go anywhere.”

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has long been examining the US’ relationship with the automobile. In May last year, a report found that only 15% of respondents would be happy with self-driving cars, compared to 38% for partially self-driving and 45% with no driverless capabilities.

The model is already in process thanks to the project between Intel, Mobileye and BMW, as already detailed in this publication.

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