Auto Auto: Stay in Your Lane!

The attempt to construct the truly automatic automobile goes on.  We now know how the self-driving car in Arizona happened to kill the pedestrian attempting to cross the road - it knew that emergency braking was needed but its programmers had decided that such a maneuver was so important that it should be reserved for the human driver, who wasn't paying attention.  Such problems will be solved eventually, some of them, quite unfortunately, through trial and catastrophic error.

Meanwhile, back in 2018, a few automatic car features, like adaptive cruise control, have crept into the mainstream and work reasonably well, if the driver remembers when they are on and when not.  Another one, automatic lane keeping, seems to really suck.

I have one of these vehicles, and have test driven a number of different brands, and, so far as I can tell, none of them work very well.  That opinion seems to be widely shared.  Among other problems, they seem to fail utterly at keeping one in the center of one's lane.  Instead, they tend to wander until they get close to a lane boundary and then turns sharply enough to send the car careering toward the opposite lane boundary.  And that's just when they happen to recognize lane boundaries at all.  Of course they get confused when lane boundaries are missing or vague, but quite often they just seem to ignore them.  I can't understand why this particular problem seems to be rocket science.  It should be a very elementary exercise in control theory.


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