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Jun 01, 2016, 12:28 PM
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Another autonomous car startup


For all the hype in the last 11 years, SOMA has never been known for the Autonomous Car Startup. Except for 1 other ACS which disappeared years ago, it's always been about the Classic Social Network Startup, which made this interview all the more fascinating.

We go riding with George Hotz and his $1,000 autonomous car (13 min 51 sec)


Once past the usual tired antics of the pitch, he dropped a few nuggets not in any other interview. His algorithm is based manely on machine vision, probably another convnet algorithm. Segments showed a front radar sensor & an external GPS antenna. It failed to detect a car in front of it. It started tracking an exit ramp, requiring him to take over. He claimed it detected a Botts dot lane marking which no other algorithm could track, but more realistically it detected the tire wear.

As usual, it's a very early prototype which can't change lanes. As with personal experience, he's trying to train the algorithm with videos of previous drives. Also matching personal experience, it didn't work at dusk. Either the sky turned white & the road turned black or it couldn't handle the shadows. He didn't say which was the case. He did say it worked at night, showing edge detection was probably 1 of the convnet stages.

Neither is there any information about how well it corrects a vehicle significantly out of the lane. Unless the training set involves a lot of drives off the road & in every possible offset from the lane markings, supervised learning algorithms are manely good at staying in the lane if they're already in the lane but bad at correcting if they go off.

Supervised learning not only requires many videos of driving, but a human must manually enter in where the lanes are. There's still no bulletproof solution to shadows, making any effort in manual training a waste of time.
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