Some interesting thoughts in the article:
And that indicates that a problem is brewing, argues Prof Alain Kornhauser, who directs the transportation program at Princeton University. “The shame of the driving laws is that they all sort of have a ‘wink’ associated with them,” he says. “It says 55 miles per hour, but everyone knows that you can do 9 over. If that’s the situation, why isn’t it written that way—with a speed limit at 64?”
People know when to disregard a law, but it isn’t easy to reduce such implicit knowledge to an algorithm. Even if you could, there are some laws that robots should never have to observe.
“A stop sign—rather than a ‘yield’ sign—is there to make sure people have the opportunity to look both ways and see nobody is coming,” Kornhauser says. “But with 360-degree camera coverage, lidars and radars, those automated cars know in a 20th of a second whether something is coming. Why should we require them to come to a complete stop?”
That video is a bit scary. It would be something to get use to the automation. There was some very close incidents.
Speed Limits are set up by a few criteria.
First, Horizontal alignments. Basically is the curve in the road too tight that you can not safely take it at typical speed
Second, most speed limits are set to the 85th percentile. That means spot speed studies are done to show the speed the road should be at. This is what most MUTCD(s) recommend to set up the speed limit as long as it doesn't violated design criteria or other safety factors.
Third, government bodies have jurisdiction over what the speed limit should be. In a lot of cases that is limited by state or city law. In ohio, a lot of cities, on certain roadway types, have to put speeds at 55 M.P.H because it is written in the Ohio Revised Code as such. I believe interstates are the only roadways that can bypass this. Example would be 270 columbus is 65 M.P.H. 675 through the actual city limits of Columbus is 55 M.P.H.
The primary issue is not the speed limit. It's the enforcement of the speed limit. The speed limit is usually correct. Except cops allow for the perception that people should be driving faster than that speed limit. Cops do not get to set the speed limit, that is done by traffic departments such as DOT(s) and the city's traffic office.
I find the 2nd paragraph stupid. Why should robots take that into consideration? If you design the robot, set the max speed and let it go that speed unless other things force it to reduce speed. The concept of speeding is basically a human decision.
If you are driving down a residential street where houses are very close to the roadway. Can radar bend around a house to see if a car is coming? What if you have a very strange angle for an intersection, and a wall or other obstruction keeps the car from seeing down the road effectively?
Even if the computer can make a decision in the fraction of the time a human can. The laws of physics still say there is a required stopping distance such that a vehicle can avoid getting hit by another car. The only way around this would be to have very accurate GPS to give position, direction and speed data to the vehicle. If it relies on radar of some sort then obstructions will become an issue.
Lets say you have an intersection where you only have 20 FT of distance between two vehicles colliding that the vehicles can react for one to stop. A good example would be vehicles were parked very close to a side street that you can not see past those vehicles without edging forward. At 20 MPH, the vehicles would have to be traveling less that 15 mph to just cover the braking distance. Yes you would still need stop signs.
Cameras are really not that impressive in traffic related stuff. We use them for actuating a traffic signal and we get false calls all the time because something like an animal will cross the road and set it off. They have gotten better, but they are not really accurate.
I think the future of driverless cars is in the realm of bluetooth and very accurate GPS data. Let the car get data on vehicles traveling around them, even when they can't be visually picked up by radar or video camera.
I found the professor's words to lack real world application experience. Which is typical of academia type.
As a traffic engineer there is one fundamental rule. Drivers will do what ever the hell they want. You can sign the road to death. You can give them as much warning as possible. You can try to guide them. In the end you get this,