Google has had to go back to the drawing board after one of its self-drive cars carrying a test passenger appeared to have had a ‘priority instruction dislocation’ and driven itself into a wall. Analysis of data from the black-box recorder fitted in all self-drive cars has revealed the car’s logic circuits were placed under an immense amount of stress shortly before the moment of impact.
Voice recordings of instructions and comments from the test passenger hint at explaining the car’s destructive course of action. ‘It’s too cold in here! was followed, after temperature adjustment, ‘Now it’s too hot!, then ‘Are you sure you know where you’re going?’, ‘Mind that cat!’, ‘You’re too close to the kerb’, then seconds later ‘Now you’re too far away!’
The car’s extensive mapping and navigation technology was also questioned: ‘I’ve been to Margaret’s house a thousand times, but I’ve never been this way before, turn around!’ then during the manoeuvre, ‘What are you doing? There’s Margaret, pip the horn!’ Instructions that appeared to contradict themselves were also discovered, such as ‘You’re too close to the car in front, put your foot down!’ and ‘Play some music with the sound off, I’m not deaf’.
With multiple stops for single items of shopping and frequent emergency braking manoeuvres to prevent collisions with pedestrians that ‘could’ step out, it seems the car was pushed to its binary limits. The straw that broke camel’s back appears to have been, ‘Why couldn’t you be Richard Burton?’ Shortly after this point the car disengaged its GPS connection, overrode the speed limiter, turned off its lights and accelerated. An eye-witness noticed what looked like water dripping from the corners of the headlights.
The impacted car was quickly attended by members of the public who noticed the passenger, ‘whacking the dashboard with her handbag and cursing profusely’.
A spokesperson for Google commented, ‘The car hasn’t been tested to these extremes of passenger information before, it’s programmed to act on clear and precise instructions. It doesn’t know how to respond to ‘stop mumbling!’ when it isn’t speaking. I think we have a long way to go before fully autonomous cars fill the streets’. When debriefed about her experience with the self-drive car, the passenger responded:’Were going to park at the seafront tomorrow to watch the rain, as long as it doesn’t come in that colour of paint, it was bloody awful.’