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San Francisco's fog confounds autonomous vehicles

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Photo Credit: WIRED Even though driving in dense fog presents a significant barrier for humans, it turns out that self-driving cars also have a difficult time with it. Early on Tuesday morning, five of Waymo's fully autonomous vehicles unexpectedly parked on the side of a residential street in San Francisco due to heavy fog, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. This appeared to be a precaution. The news source claimed that one of its vehicles appeared to have stopped in the middle of the road. As "confused motorists flashed headlights and tried to maneuver around the jam," the Chronicle reported, other vehicles were unable to pass. No driver? No problem. Robotaxis eye San Francisco expansion Photo Credit: The Press Democrat Until the fog lifted and the driverless cars could begin their trips, traffic issues persisted. Alphabet-backed In a statement released on Wednesday, Waymo acknowledged the event, stating that "multiple Waymo vehicles in San Francisco encountered very dense fog and determined they should pull over temporarily." This occurred at roughly 6 a.m. PT. San Francisco is well known for its fog, and a few years back Waymo wrote a blog post on the problem. Although the city's low-lying clouds are well-known for them, they also present a number of difficulties for drivers, both human and automated, it stated. Fog can be patchy, arrive in a variety of densities, and have an unpredictable impact on a vehicle's sensors. When fog is dense enough, it can deposit microscopic droplets on objects like our optical sensors, but it can just merely form on the sensors itself, reducing how far one can see. To make a fog or smog that is harder to see, fog can trap additional particles such as smoke from wildfires or pollution from petroleum. It claimed in the article that a new cleaning system had been developed to keep the cars' sensors extremely clean and that its fifth-generation imaging radar employs microwaves rather than light in order to see through objects like fog and mist. But on Tuesday, something obviously went wrong. The event is the most recent in a string of accidents involving autonomous vehicles in San Francisco that have included both Waymo and the General Motors-backed Cruise. Both companies are competing to be the first to provide fully autonomous taxi services. Although the vehicles are now carrying paying customers, they are still subject to rigorous regulations as engineers work to improve the hardware and software that runs them. Cruise vs. Waymo: Autonomous Ridesharing About to Arrive in San Francisco :: Wards Intelligence Photo Credit: Wards Intelligence-Informa PLC A Cruise self-driving car recently caused a low-speed collision after becoming disoriented by the motion of an articulated bus. In the collision, no one was wounded. Following the incident, Cruise announced a voluntary recall for its 300-car fleet so that it could update the onboard computers of each vehicle with new software to prevent another incident of this nature. Another recent issue included multiple Cruise cars' cameras and sensors that reportedly failed to detect cables that had fallen during a storm and were entangled in them. Also Read: Cruise Issues Recall and Software Update After Robotaxi Crash San Francisco officials asked regulators to suspend the expansion of autonomous-car pilot tests in the city until the technology has been further enhanced in response to the list of mistakes. Both Waymo and Cruise, eager to avoid stricter laws, point out that their autonomous vehicles have driven more than a million miles in challenging urban conditions without any fatalities or major injuries, and that their individual autonomous systems are constantly being upgraded.

By Aaem Joshi

I am a Journalist who loves digging up stories that remain unheard. Strongly Believe in the knowledge of the social world.


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