Accounting for Autonomous Failure

This tweet came across my timeline today on what an extremely automated road network could look like, with autonomous cars self-navigating through busy intersection:

Looks impressive to the naked eye, doesn’t it?

Square colleague and fellow Quora Top Writer Tim Morgan had more nuanced, engineering-minded perspective:

Like plane autopilots, it wouldn’t be that efficient. This assumes perfect h/w. You need to account for failure modes.

– @riscfuture

And I mostly agree on principle. It’s not enough to have a cheaper and more efficient system; it also needs to remain reliable and fail reasonably. Fortunately though, I think this system would pass that test – while the movements are a little too quick for human reactions, the cars are spaced far enough apart that simply stopping (i.e., how human drivers react to automotive failures) ought to be sufficient.