On How the Car Autopilot Sees the World

Science fiction has repeatedly predicted the future in the most unpredictable ways. For example, recently published footage of the autopilot computer vision looks impressive and frighteningly reminiscent of how the world first met the killer robot from the famous action movie "Terminator".

This picture looks familiar for those who are familiar with the work of neural network image recognition algorithms. The only difference is that everything happens in real time. In this case, the video sequence is recorded by Tesla's Autopilot. But almost any other competitor car, in fact, sees the same thing. The task of the computer is to quickly and accurately catalog all visible objects and to predict their behavior on the road and around it.

When the creators of Terminator came up with the robotic vision, they did not know how realistic it would be. It is true a consistent examination of all important objects in the field of view is the most obvious way to get information about the outside world. Our brain works much the same way. When the creators of Terminator came up with the robotic vision, they did not know how realistic it would be. It is true a consistent examination of all important objects in the field of view is the most obvious way to get information about the outside world. Our brain works much the same way.

Tesla has recently published a special press release dedicated to the work of their proprietary artificial intelligence. According to this information, we can assume that the software has a huge complexity.

Undoubtedly, neural networks are not just on everyone's lips, they are indispensable. The main task of neural networks is to recognize objects. Then software engineers and their experience come into play: one in a million sold cars continuously analyzes what is happening around it on the road. Then this information is sent to the server after initial processing, where people begin to study it.

In other words, every driver of a high-tech electric car takes part in training of the autopilot of the future, even if his model does not have the full functionality for autonomous driving. This data is used to create universal rules that show what to expect in a variety of road situations. It is already being used to write behavior models for a virtual “driver” that will not just start helping a person at the wheel in the near future but will replace him.

The autopilot software is constantly being improved, and not the least part of this is played by the car hardware, which is designed with forward-thinking. Tesla’s cars use chips specially designed for their specific tasks, e.g. very fast processing of the computations performed by 48 specific neural networks, each responsible for its own part in operating of the autopilot.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

is the third law of Arthur C. Clarke, a British science fiction writer and philosopher. And in the case of driverless cars, he was right more than ever. All of the above nuances allow modern cars with autopilot function to drive smoothly and accurately on public roads. This is an intimidating but fascinating reality — not all people can drive like this.

Certainly, the mass use of autopilot has not yet occurred, and there are several reasons for this. First, safety concerns — there is no guarantee that all situations on the road can be handled correctly by a computer. Secondly, the legal subtleties — what to do if an accident is caused by Artificial Intelligence? The list can be very long, but all these issues will be resolved in the near future: there are hundreds of companies and startups around the world that are improving their autopilot technologies.

And, of course, it is impossible not to mention the expected fears regarding the AI takeover, or other forms of technological apocalypse. Yes, no one knows for sure what threats all modern inventions can pose in the future. But the progress cannot be stopped. Alarmists sabotaged the first machines even back in the 19th century. So, it is better to relax and enjoy such a wonderful time of our lives. Even if the world is eventually taken over by robots, we will have something to remember.

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