In the century or so that people have been driving, two different sets of rules have developed: The official laws that we’re supposed to obey, and the unofficial code of the road that bends and often breaks those laws. For example, we allknow — whether we like it or not — that many highway drivers are going to exceed the speed limit. But what happens when you introduce self-driving cars that are designed to always follow the rules and don’t understand why other drivers are extending their middle fingers in their direction?
That seems like it would be a good thing, and it would be if all vehicles on the road were autonomous ones that communicated with each other and followed the same rules. The problem is that they will still have to share the road with human drivers.
New York state is about to allow autonomous cars to begin testing on its public highways and roads, adding another area to the territory that the vehicles can cover, and yet another set of unspoken rules of traffic that engineers will have to teach to their vehicles.
Companies testing the vehicles will have to file the routes their cars will travel with the state, but it’s other drivers who pose the real problem.
“There’s an endless list of these cases where we as humans know the context, we know when to bend the rules and when to break the rules,” a Carnegie Mellon University professor in charge of autonomous car research told the Associated Press.