People are bad at taking over from autonomous cars

Professor Neville Stanton in University of Southampton driving simulator
Testing autonomous takeover through driving simulation

Humans trust robots with their lives, and they probably shouldn’t. A new study published today shows that people aren’t great at taking control back from autonomous vehicles, or handing off the control if need be. Autopilot for cars promises to save lives, but those promises will mean little if they can’t account for human error from the start.

Published in the journal Human Factors, the study “Takeover Time in Highly Automated Vehicles: Noncritical Transitions to and From Manual Control” is about what happens when humans need to take control of a car that’s driving itself.

the authors observed 26 men and women (ages 20-52) engaged in simulated driving at 70 mph with and without a nondriving secondary (i.e., distracting) task and recorded response time as the drivers took over or relinquished control of the automated system. A takeover request was issued at random intervals ranging from 30 to 45 seconds during normal motorway-driving conditions. The authors found that drivers engaged in a secondary task prior to a control transition took longer to respond, posing a safety hazard.

Takeover is a pretty key part of how autopilots work in cars right now. Last May, a Tesla Model S driver died when both he and his car failed to spot a tractor-trailer crossing the highway. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into the crash did not find sufficient grounds for a product recall. It did note, however, that despite the clear limitations of the autopilot feature, “other jurisdictions have raised concerns about Tesla’s use of the name “Autopilot.”

Autopilots have been legally tricky from the start. There’s a case on autopilot liability from 1947, when a Navy pilot crashed into a small plane. The case, Ferguson v. Bombardier Services Corp ruled that despite the autopilot, the human flying the plane had a responsibility to monitor the craft and was ultimately held responsible.

I learned about the case of [Ferguson v. Bombardier Services Corp] from Robots in American Law, a study published by University of Washington assistant law professor Ryan Calo. I spoke to Calo about the latest study.

“The pilot got sued by the survivors of the victims,” Calo said today. “That’s one very clear-cut case where a person was bad at monitoring and taking control from a rudimentary autopilot and it resulted in an autopilot, for which a human got blamed.”

There is a body of work on handoff issues, that specific moment when control of a vehicle transfers from autopilot to human or the reserver. In 2013 robotics researcher Missy Cummings, who noted that “at precisely the time when the automation needs assistance, the operator could not provide it and may actually have made the situation worse.”

“It’s a known problem,” says Ryan Calo, “it’s part of the reason that human-robot interactions need to be part of what we fund.”

As for the study at hand, the researchers found that in non-emergency situations, it can take anywhere from 2 to 26 seconds for a human driver to hand off control to an autopilot. That’s a huge range, and the authors recommend that, rather than aiming at an average response time, autopilot designers take into account how much difference there is for human reactions, and start working from there.

It might be hard to design autopilots in a way that accounts for every human, but it’s probably a lot easier to design autopilots with humans in mind, instead of trying to standardize the behavior of every human driver.

Source :

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    73. I try to eat as healthy as I can but sometimes I give into temptation. One thing that I have noticed that helps more than anything is to cut down on the meal size and atleast get a little bit of exercise in, whether it be a walk or a bike ride just getting out and doing something has definitely helped.

    74. Caro Amigo Samuel,O que mais existe por aí é gente cínica. Este é só mais um…Mas, deixe-me dizer-lhe que, no que toca à Guiné, salvo melhor opinião, o problema tem que ser rapidamente equacionado no âmbito da ONU.Aproveito para lhe oferecer um (ou os que quiser) Ikebana que deixei no Querubim Peregrino para os meus amigos, porque a vida também é feita de beleza e harmonia.Um abraço amigo, com votos de uma semana feliz,Maria Faia

    75. printed in the USA.The book sent to me says…..30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 Printed in SinaporeKind of a mystery…..I just hope it is a valid version of your book.Thanks again for writing me back!Love your Blog….follow it faithfully……and have really enjoyed the adventures of Jack and Girl Kitty. Plus all the posts from the girlfriends.You put a bright spot in our day!Happy New Year!Deb

    76. Epa..mas porque razão o outro em vez de se imolar, não se pôs á Coca e não pregam uns balázios nos C###OS desta gente.Isto só lá vai com um curso avanço para Snippers de 1ª.Ah…e a familia tem que pagar a bala depois.A ver se gostam

    77. Thanks a lot dears, you're very kind! I'm happy you like my nailpolish cause it's so strong and I was not sure when I bought it!Demetra: grazie mille, giro subito i complimenti anche a Manuela!Anonymous: grazie, se molto gentile! I miei piedi oramai sono abituati ma a volte soffrono lo stesso, come in questo caso! Sono contenta di averti tra le mie fedeli lettrici! <3

    78. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    79. If you want to make forced psychiatric an option, you're going to have to reassure a lot of mildly odd/eccentric individuals that they won't be targeted. It only works in an environment where social norms are incredibly stringent and rigidly enforced. (Like the 1950s – I think a lot of the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s were reactions to how stultifying the 1950s were for many people.)Or the USSR (the Union of Soviet Sykiatric Republics?), whose culture was a timeless 1950s one – only without money, cars, Elvis, James Dean, comic books, and juvenile delinquents.

    80. Great, but innaccurate headline!The Germans are simply making explicit what their position has been all along namely, that he who pays the piper calls the tune. The euro-zone crisis developed as a result of indiscriminate spending of other people’s money, and it would be foolish to allow it to continue.

    81. CR: Almost 'got it in one' (joke)! Why cannot others see the true picture. The number of politicians the UK has who actually care about this nation can be counted on one hand!Off topic, but relevant: WV slipped up and left the letter 'D' off what was 'bustur'

    82. I couldn’t currently have asked for a better blog. You’re always available to offer excellent suggestions, going straight to the point for simple understanding of your readership. You’re undoubtedly a terrific professional in this matter. Thanks a ton for currently being there for folks like me.

    83. Merci Pére pour votre témoignage sur le pélerinage et sur l’association.Ces jours où nous avons été si prochesdans la priére et dans l’amitié nous ont permis de repartir plein de courage et de forces pour continuer la route.Bien amicalementMarie-Claude Aizpurua

    84. I have the same extractor as Dr. Yadav and it doesn’t require as much pressure as the one Russ uses. I am not even sure why I bought it as I rarely need it, but I liked the way it looked. Much thinner and the little bowl part is gentle. Well done Russ, well done.

    85. Jeannie,You are so right! Many people have to relearn to breathe. We get so used to being in “flight or fight” mode or sucking in our bellies so that our jeans will button (I’m sooo guilty), that we lose the ability to take a full, deep breath.Don’t believe me? Just watch a baby breathe….they breathe with their entire bodies. It’s amazing!Thanks for stopping by!Tiffany

    86. I spent years counseling kids, working as a teacher in a classroom with autistic kids, and a few years as a pre-school teacher. I love kids…and I am adamantly pro-choice. It’s not contradictory to love children and to support women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Being feminist and being pro-choice will always be portrayed as ugly and unattractive, in an attempt to turn women off from the concept that they have rights. I won’t fall for it.

    87. Interesting post, arj. John Mansfield, thanks for posting that about the wall surrounding the Temple. It reminds me of that time when Dan Quayle came to Salt Lake City and gave a speech outside the Tabernacle one Morning, saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

    88. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

    89. I never heard from anyone congress etc. that I wrote to except the governor Charlie Crist(Fla.). I had to declare bankruptcy, ch 7, to save my home, the attorney said, for only about 3-4 months. I cannot find a job in Florida.

    90. Descaaansa! Una amiga que vino a ver My favourite things anda en Praga estos días y quedó realmente sorprendida al ver que se estaba representando una obra tuya allí… Tiempo al tiempo. No pierdo la esperanza de ver Origami representada en BCN. Buen verano!(Esa web de vaquitas promete!!)

    91. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    92. To já bych se Saxánou v tomto i souhlasil. SamozÅ™ejmÄ›, setkávám se s rozhodnutími, která mají rozdílnou stylistickou úroveň, od brilantních úvah po nesrozumitelná čtení. Jenže. Mnohem víc mi dÄ›lá vrásky, když rozhodnutí chybí nÄ›jakou z tÄ›ch zásadnÄ›jších vad, tÅ™eba je nepÅ™ezkoumatelné. Co je mi platné, že se rozsudek dobÅ™e čte, když je zcela k ničemu, protože se soudce nevyjádÅ™il k tomu, proč neprovedl nÄ›jaký důkaz, když smíchal skutkové a právní úvahy do jednoho klubka a podobnÄ›. A to se stává. SamozÅ™ejmÄ› ne vždy, to netvrdím, ale pÅ™ijde mi to podstatnÄ›jší…