The head of Toyota’s new US$1bn research centre has told a launch event that autonomous vehicles “aren’t as clever as you think they are”.
A report on pcworld.com quotes Gill Pratt as saying “I want to help the press and the public understand that when they see a car that does not have a human being behind the wheel and it seems to be driving, that the car is not as intelligent as a human being behind the wheel, even though it seems it might be.”
The report says that he explained how autonomous cars look great in controlled environments but soon fail when faced with tasks that human drivers find simple.
Drivers, for example, can pretty much get behind the wheel of a car and drive it wherever it may be, he said. Autonomous vehicles use GPS and laser imaging sensors to figure out where they are by matching data against a complex map that goes beyond simple roads and includes details down to lane markings.
The cars rely on all that data to drive, so they quickly hit problems in areas that haven’t been mapped in advance.
He was speaking in Tokyo at the announcement of the Silicon Valley centre which will open next January to drive artificial intelligence and robotics research, both for autonomous vehicles and other projects.