Volvo and start-up company Perceptive Automata are working on a project that will make machines predict a human’s next action. The project aims to build better AVs or autonomous vehicles.
Perceptive Automata trained its AI with the aid of various video clips recorded by Dependable Highway Express from two Volvo trucks that traversed public roads. A human then explained to the machine what the people in the footages were about to do. This process helped the AI learn the signs that most AVs do not have in their systems such as eye contact, body language, and the type of person encountered.
Interpreting complex signs
Perceptive Automata CEO Sid Misra said that other AV manufacturers make use of pose estimation to predict actions. However, Volvo does not believe on the accuracy of the method because it overlooks a lot of information that cannot be captured by merely studying a person’s pose, such as eye contact and the way they carry their belongings.
According to James Grower, the company’s VP for strategy and business development, scientists tend to simplify problems so they can solve them, but in the process, they overlook little details that are essential for the solution to work.
Context information is another necessary method that some AV manufacturers make use of in predicting behaviour. However, Misra’s experience riding an Aptiv AV proved that not all context-based predictions are reliable. The vehicle treated pedestrians as objects when they are not in crosswalks, which may pose a danger when in US states like Boston, New York, or San Francisco, where the roads and pedestrian behaviours are different.
Perceptive Automata’s demonstration screen for their AV system shows thought bubbles floating above the pedestrian’s head. The thought bubbles indicate the pedestrian’s intention and awareness.
Intention is the AV’s prediction of the pedestrian’s movement, while awareness indicates whether the pedestrian recognizes that the AV is nearby.
The company’s AI system uses cameras since these are the cheapest device that does the work. They are currently testing the possibility of using lidar and thermal cameras to be utilized in different circumstances.
Volvo’s AV expansion
According to Aravind Kailas, Volvo Group’s manager for research and innovation, Volvo is eyeing to incorporate the AV not only in its commercial pilots and buses but also in construction equipment used in urban settings.