It’s hard enough to teach a machine to understand nuanced aspects of human behavior, like the friendly wave one driver might give another to motion that, yes, sure, you can cut in front of me right now. But teaching an autonomous system to handle the subtleties of each culture’s specific driving mannerisms is even harder.
“In Pittsburgh, for example, we have something called a Pittsburgh left turn, and that’s the local culture,” Raj Rajkumar, who studies autonomous vehicle technology at Carnegie Mellon, told WIRED in 2017, when Waymo began to test its vehicles in Michigan snow. “Boston has a driving culture where people double-park willy-nilly. Autonomous vehicles need to be taught to deal with all these situations.”