‘Socially-cooperative’ cars are part of the future of driverless vehicles, says CMU professor

At Carnegie Mellon, one of the leaders in robotics, Professor John Dolan is finding ways humans and machines can communicate safely on the road. He spoke with TechRepublic about his research. Think about when our car enters a highway from an entrance ramp. We negotiate with nearby cars; if we’re close to another car, if it’s ahead, we let it go. If we’re ahead, it lets us go. If we’re close to it, we negotiate with visual cues, and also with speed cues. We speed up in order to indicate that we don’t want to yield to the other car. Or, vice versa—they speed up in order to get in front of us. So, our team is looking at how to use probability to judge the intentions of that driver, and to be able convey to that driver what our intentions are, in order to have safer and more natural interactions with other cars.