Animal Drawn Vehicles and AI Autonomous Cars

Animal Drawn Vehicles and AI Autonomous Cars

By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider

I see horses.

I see them most days.

I’m fortunate to live nearby an equestrian center.

When I drive to work in the morning there is usually someone taking a horse for a ride. The equestrian center has its own riding trails and much of the time the horses are kept inside the center’s property. There are though special dirt trails that parallel the streets of my neighborhood and the horse riders can go along those paths if they wish to do so.

Living in the Los Angeles area would seem to suggest that you might rarely if ever see horses.

We have lots of city environs with tall buildings and tight streets that are filled with cars and snarled with traffic. We have busy suburbs that have home after home and swimming pool after swimming pool. And yes, we do have some grassy open parks here and there and areas such as the nearby equestrian center that provide a kind of “wilderness out west” escape from the big city type of living.

When I see someone riding their horse alongside the roads in my community, I sometimes have a moment of thinking maybe I should be a cowboy and be outside steering cattle rather than working in a high-tech lab with the latest in AI systems and robotics. Sitting around a campfire at night, eating a can of beans, looking up at the vast array of star in the moonlit sky, and rustling cattle during the daylight. That’s me. Well, maybe not.

The horse riders slowly ride their horses down the street and are wise to be cautious of the car traffic. I always try to be careful with my car when I end-up coming upon a horse and its rider, but there are some drivers here that have grown immune to the joy of seeing the horses and they drive without any consideration for these magnificent animals and their riders.

Story About A Horse

For example, the other day there was a horse rider that came up to the place where the path crosses the street.

The horse rider would need to come off of the path that paralleled the street and was protected by a sidewalk and slightly raised up from the road level. As the horse and rider started to go across the street, which put them directly into the path of oncoming cars, some of the car drivers seemed unimpressed that they were driving up to a horse. The horse and rider were completely vulnerable to any car driving idiot that might hit the gas and ram into them (heaven forbid!).

The car driver was driving their car as though it was just any pedestrian meandering across the street, maybe someone on a bike or walking a bike. The driver did not seem to be calculating the possibility that the horse might get riled up by a car. Inanimate objects like a bicycle are not likely to suddenly react to the presence of a car. A horse is a horse. It’s an animal. If a car gets too close to some horses, and the car appears to be moving in a threatening manner (from the perspective of the horse, whether rightfully or wrongly so believing), the horse is bound to do something to indicate its concern or displeasure. I’ve seen some horses that came to a complete standstill. I’ve seen other horses that try to bolt across the street and escape the situation.

For those horses that have lived here a while, they seem quite experienced in dealing with cars. As such, these savvy horses seem to take the whole matter of being next to cars as something mundane and not especially noteworthy. Newer horses appear to not yet have reconciled the idea that they will be ridden within a few feet of moving cars. That being said, I’d assert though that even the most mature horse is going to find it objectionable if a car appears to be moving too fast and might ram into them.

The horse rider of course has a lot to do in this equation of the car and horse interaction.

Sometimes the horses are being ridden by a novice horse rider, such as a child. The child often does not yet know how to control a horse, and particularly so when the horse is riled-up. I’ve seen many times an unsuspecting child riding a horse that had no problems while riding the horse in the forested area of the equestrian center and believes they can well handle a horse, and then the child discovers to their dismay that it’s a different story when taking the horse into the neighborhood among frantic cars, barking dogs, wild bicyclists, noisy motorcyclists, and all sorts of other people and things that the horse would not encounter in the protected forest area.

To clarify, these are not wild horses.

They are domesticated horses.

By-and-large, they have been trained to cope with the vagaries of our urban world. Some of them here are used for more than solely providing a ride for humans. There are some horses that are also used as so-called working animals. I’d like to emphasize that I consider any horse that is providing a ride to a person and for which the equestrian center is getting paid by the human rider, I’d call that a “working” horse in my book (it is working and earning money for someone).

Usually a working horse is one that you’d consider a beast of burden, one that has a harness and is used to pull something like a carriage or a wagon. We have an annual parade on the 4th of July and some of the horses are used to pull stagecoaches and parade floats. The crowds lining the lengthy parade route are apt to burst into applause and make ooh and ah sounds whenever the horses come along in the parade.

Controversy About NYC Horse Drawn Carriages

If you’ve ever been to New York City (NYC), you’ve likely seen the horse drawn carriages near Central Park.

Tourists delight in going for a ride in the carriages and having a romantic trip. There is an ongoing controversy about the horse drawn carriages and there are some that believe it is inhumane or improper to have the horses do this task, especially in the NYC environment. Besides the romantic notion we humans have about the matter, the reality is that the horses are nearby the crazy car traffic that permeates the streets of the city that never sleeps.

According to published reports and a catalog of incidents kept by PETA, earlier this year there was a case of a horse and carriage that took off into the streets of NYC without the carriage driver, and the horse ran into two parked cars, injuring the horse and the cars. Even worse was an incident in which a horse was being raced to the front of the hack line by a carriage driver (the hack line is where the carriages wait to find someone willing to pay for a ride, like waiting for a cab), and the entire carriage overturned and injured the horse.

I don’t want to seem to only be picking on my East Coast NYC friends, and so it is noteworthy that there have been incidents in other locations that allow horse drawn carriages too. For example, last year there was an incident in St. Louis, Missouri that involved a horse drawing a carriage that ran into a moving car. In Durango, Colorado, a driver left his carriage unattended and the horse took off and ran randomly in the streets. Charleston, South Carolina had an incident last year in which a horse and carriage ran into a moving car. And so on.

One of the most famous recent incidents did take place in NYC. A few years ago, a horse named Goldie broke free of the harness and galloped for eleven blocks in the streets of NYC. I know that New Yorkers are used to seeing unusual and at times strange antics on their streets, though I’d bet that a horse galloping on its own would be something that even the hardened New Yorkers would stop for a moment to see.

Can you take a selfie of a galloping horse behind you while standing on 5th Avenue and post it to social media and get lots of views?

I’m sure you can.

Amish And Workhorses

There are some people that rely upon a horse and buggy as their primary form of transportation.

In Lancaster County, the Amish routinely use a multitude of horse and buggy wagons to get around. There is a false assumption that the Amish are prevented by their religious beliefs in riding in a car, but this is not the case. They aren’t supposed to own a car. They can ride in a car, if the situation arises. Generally, they use a horse and buggy to get around in their locale. This is sufficient for their living purposes.

Those of us in the United States might not realize there are many places in the world that still rely upon horses, mules, donkeys, and other draft animals as a crucial part of their living.

Believe it or not, the cost of having a draft animal, including its upkeep, and the lesser need to have things such as gas stations and auto mechanic shops, makes it sensible to use beasts of burden in some parts of today’s world.

The use of horse drawn carriages in NYC and other places is marginally a necessity, one might argue, while places that rely upon draft animals to farm and otherwise make a living are arguably more dependent upon such matters.

Other Draft Animals

I’d perhaps be remiss if I left out camels.

They too are a beast of burden.

They are used in places in the world that can have them come in contact with cars by having the camels walk in car traffic, frequently so.

Dogs can be beasts of burden too.

Think about dog sleds.

A dog sled can be driven onto roads that also have car traffic.

One concern about having these animals in car traffic situations involves the rather obvious point that the animal can get injured or killed by cars.

Likewise, such an animal could ram into or run over by a car, potentially injuring occupants in the car. We need to also consider the health hazard overall to a draft animal that when in traffic might be breathing in the harmful exhaust and fumes of the cars. This can add-up over time, the more that the draft animal goes into traffic.

It can be tricky and frightening to a draft animal to be among moving cars.

This causes emotional stress for the animal.

There is rather apparent physical stresses too due to the continual walking or running on a paved street, which is bound to be abrasive to their legs and feet or hooves. One of the complaints lobbed at the horse and carriage trade here in the United States is that the horses eventually end-up with leg problems as a result of so much walking on the hard surfaces of asphalt streets.

For most of us, we probably in our daily driving routine rarely encounter any draft animals that are pulling a wagon or buggy or carriage and doing so in or close to the car traffic. In my case, I’d need to drive to a ranch here in Southern California to likely have such contact with me and my car. Nonetheless, there is a chance that at some point you’ll be driving in your car and come upon an animal drawn vehicle. For some people, maybe this happens each day, while for others it perhaps happens in a blue moon.

Either way, it is expected that a human driver of a car be ready and able to properly and appropriately drive when near an animal drawn vehicle.

This is covered in most states as part of the rules embodied in their approved official driving rules. For California, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides an indication of the do’s and don’ts when you are driving nearby animal drawn vehicles. Besides wanting to encourage safe driving in such settings, the human driver can also be ticketed and suffer various driving penalties if they drive adversely, unsafely, or in an illegal manner when driving nearby to animal drawn vehicles. It’s the code, live with it!

AI Autonomous Cars And Draft Animals

What does this have to do with AI self-driving driverless autonomous cars?

At the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute, we are developing AI software for self-driving cars. One aspect involves the AI system being able to cope with driving when nearby animal drawn vehicles.

This is generally considered an edge or corner case, rightfully so due to its rarity in the everyday city or suburb driving situations, but nonetheless it is a legal requirement that human drivers must be aware of and obey the rules and in our view so should an AI self-driving car.

You can’t just wave your hands as an AI developer and complain that encountering an animal drawn vehicle is an obscure use case. Obscure or not, the AI had better drive properly, otherwise the animal(s) might be endangered, any human riders or drivers of an animal drawn carriage might be endangered by a car, and even the car itself and its occupants could be endangered (plus nearby pedestrians or other humans that could be involved in a potential car crash or incident sparked by the interaction of the car and the draft animal).

For more about edge cases, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/edge-problems-core-true-self-driving-cars-achieving-last-mile/

For the sometimes egocentric views of AI developers, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/egocentric-design-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For idealism about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/idealism-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For safety aspects of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/safety-and-ai-self-driving-cars-world-safety-summit-on-autonomous-tech/

I’d like to first clarify and introduce the notion that there are varying levels of AI self-driving cars.

The topmost level is considered Level 5. A Level 5 self-driving car is one that is being driven by the AI and there is no human driver involved. For the design of Level 5 self-driving cars, the automakers are even removing the gas pedal, the brake pedal, and steering wheel, since those are contraptions used by human drivers. The Level 5 self-driving car is not being driven by a human and nor is there an expectation that a human driver will be present in the self-driving car. It’s all on the shoulders of the AI to drive the car.

For self-driving cars less than a Level 5, there must be a human driver present in the car. The human driver is currently considered the responsible party for the acts of the car. The AI and the human driver are co-sharing the driving task. In spite of this co-sharing, the human is supposed to remain fully immersed into the driving task and be ready at all times to perform the driving task. I’ve repeatedly warned about the dangers of this co-sharing arrangement and predicted it will produce many untoward results.

For my overall framework about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/framework-ai-self-driving-driverless-cars-big-picture/

For the levels of self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/richter-scale-levels-self-driving-cars/

For why AI Level 5 self-driving cars are like a moonshot, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/self-driving-car-mother-ai-projects-moonshot/

For the dangers of co-sharing the driving task, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/human-back-up-drivers-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

Let’s focus herein on the true Level 5 self-driving car. Much of the comments apply to the less than Level 5 self-driving cars too, but the fully autonomous AI self-driving car will receive the most attention in this discussion.

Here’s the usual steps involved in the AI driving task:

  • Sensor data collection and interpretation
  • Sensor fusion
  • Virtual world model updating
  • AI action planning
  • Car controls command issuance

Another key aspect of AI self-driving cars is that they will be driving on our roadways in the midst of human driven cars too. There are some pundits of AI self-driving cars that continually refer to a utopian world in which there are only AI self-driving cars on public roads. Currently there are about 250+ million conventional cars in the United States alone, and those cars are not going to magically disappear or become true Level 5 AI self-driving cars overnight.

Indeed, the use of human driven cars will last for many years, likely many decades, and the advent of AI self-driving cars will occur while there are still human driven cars on the roads. This is a crucial point since this means that the AI of self-driving cars needs to be able to contend with not just other AI self-driving cars, but also contend with human driven cars. It is easy to envision a simplistic and rather unrealistic world in which all AI self-driving cars are politely interacting with each other and being civil about roadway interactions. That’s not what is going to be happening for the foreseeable future. AI self-driving cars and human driven cars will need to be able to cope with each other. Period.

For my article about the grand convergence that has led us to this moment in time, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/grand-convergence-explains-rise-self-driving-cars/

See my article about the ethical dilemmas facing AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ethically-ambiguous-self-driving-cars/

For potential regulations about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/assessing-federal-regulations-self-driving-cars-house-bill-passed/

For my predictions about AI self-driving cars for the 2020s, 2030s, and 2040s, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/gen-z-and-the-fate-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

Are Draft Animals A Special Case Or Not

Returning to the matter of driving a car when nearby to animal drawn vehicles, let’s consider the kinds of driving tactics and strategies that an AI system for a self-driving car should be imbued with in order to safely deal with such situations.

I’m sure there are some AI developers that would immediately claim that the AI does not need any special capability for driving when nearby animal drawn vehicles.

They would contend that if an AI system can navigate and drive a car on everyday streets, it would presumably be able to drive when nearby animal drawn vehicles. Indeed, they would assert that there is nothing unusual or special to be done, and the AI can consider an animal drawn vehicle to be no different than any other moving vehicle on the road.

Hogwash.

This kind of thinking is going to get AI self-driving cars into some bad predicaments that could have otherwise been more safely handled.

If we just play the game that an animal drawn vehicle is no different than any other moving vehicle, the odds are that eventually and inevitably something will go awry. For those pundits that are strong advocates of AI self-driving cars, I assure you that the day that an AI self-driving car gets entangled in an adverse situation with an animal driven vehicle, and especially if there is any injury to humans or animals, it will become a rallying cry for those that say AI self-driving cars are not ready for being on our roads.

An AI developer that shrugs off the possibility is missing the bigger picture.

An AI self-driving car pundit that is vocally supportive of AI self-driving cars will find that even one such adverse incident can undermine months or possibly even years of potential public-trust that might have been built up for AI self-driving cars. AI self-driving car maims horse. AI self-driving car crashes into horse drawn carriage. Horses scared by AI self-driving car and sprint away, fearing for their lives. These are all headlines that can catch like wildfire and then damage the image of AI self-driving cars, which will be very hard to undo or overcome.

For my article about fake news about AI self-driving cars, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ai-fake-news-about-self-driving-cars/

For the marketing aspects of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/marketing-self-driving-cars-new-paradigms/

For regulations about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/assessing-federal-regulations-self-driving-cars-house-bill-passed/

For the public trust aspects about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/roller-coaster-public-perception-ai-self-driving-cars/

AI Coping With Nearby Draft Animals

Let’s consider what the AI should be doing regarding animal drawn vehicles.

First, the detection of an animal drawn vehicle is key to being able to undertake any potential actions about it. The sensors of the AI self-driving car need to try and ascertain whether an animal drawn vehicle is nearby. This might be harder to do than you think.

For humans, we readily can look around the surroundings of a car and be able to discern that there is say a horse over there and it is pulling a carriage. Easy to do. For most AI systems, this is a much harder task. Generally, the AI will make use of cameras to visually examine the surroundings of the car. Pictures or video are then analyzed by software routines that are often trained to find everyday objects in a street scene, such as other cars, buses, bicyclists, pedestrians, and the like.

Using Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL), the visual images are assessed and interpreted by Artificial Neural Networks (ANN’s or sometimes referred to as simply NN’s).

These ML/DL elements were likely trained via thousands upon thousands of images of everyday street scenes, of which, there were visual aspects or clues that could lend toward identifying what is in the image. As a result of this training, the AI is supposed to be able to discern what kinds of objects are nearby and also associate those objects with potential behaviors.

One issue about these ANN’s is that the training set of data needs to encompass a wide enough range of images that the training will provide sufficient examples for dealing with the real world. Suppose we fed thousands of street scene images into a ML/DL and purposely did not include scenes that had light posts and nor fire hydrants. The ANN doesn’t somehow magically realize that the images don’t contain something. Instead, it trains based on what is presented to it.

Without any training on the recognizing of light posts and fire hydrants, this means that in the real-world the AI self-driving car is not going to be informed when a light post or fire hydrant is nearby. I’d wager that most of us notice fire hydrants when we are trying to park our cars, being wary of parking near to one for concern of getting a ticket. Imagine if you did not even know what a fire hydrant looked like, which therefore you would likely park next to one, innocently, unknowingly, since you would just assume the thing sitting there was some kind of inconsequential object, a blob as it were.

I mention all of this because the same notion can be applied to an animal drawn vehicle. If the image processing portion of the AI system has not be explicitly trained or programmed to recognize animal drawn vehicles, there will be no specific means for the AI to recognize that one is nearby. Instead, there will be an unknown blob. The AI will at least potentially realize that something is there, and in addition to the visual images there will likely be radar, ultrasonic, and LIDAR that will detect the presence of the thing.

Unfortunately, detecting the presence of something is not enough, since you also would be better off knowing what the thing actually is.

Categorized as a blob, the AI really cannot do much in terms of anticipating what the blob might do.

Is it stationary and unlikely to move?

If a horse drawn carriage is sitting at the curb and waiting to take on passengers, it is momentarily still, but soon enough it will start to move into traffic. Not knowing that the unknown object is a horse drawn carriage, the AI might assume that the stationary object is always unmoving and perhaps permanently stationed in the spot that it resides.

For my article about Machine Learning core aspects, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/machine-learning-benchmarks-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For ensemble Machine Learning, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ensemble-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

For federated Machine Learning, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/federated-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the importance of explanation-based Machine Learning, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/explanation-ai-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

Domestic Versus International Readiness

Detection then is crucial for the AI to be able to deal with animal drawn vehicles. There must be ML/DL that was undertaken specifically to include animal drawn vehicles. The nature and types of animal drawn vehicles would need to have been varied enough to allow for the real-world variety of circumstances that the AI self-driving car might itself in.

This brings up another aspect about AI self-driving cars, namely their being internationally ready.

Much of the work on AI self-driving car is taking place currently in the United States. There is an inherent bias on the part of the AI developers to concentrate on the kinds of roads and roadway situations encountered in the United States. That’s fine and makes sense for aiming at AI self-driving cars that will work well in the United States, but it also provides the potential downside that the AI self-driving cars won’t do well in other countries, being unable to contend with the international differences.

If you are an auto maker or tech firm and mainly care about the U.S. market, you are doing just fine to have a U.S.-only mindset. On the other hand, if you want to ultimately have your AI self-driving cars be able to work properly in Europe, and in Asia, and in all other parts of the world, you need to be considering how to establish the groundwork in your AI system to be able to deal with those other locales. If you’ve ever developed software for a global market, you know that you need to build into your software a multilingual capability and also that it needs to be culturally appropriate to the cultures that will use the software.

In the case of an AI self-driving car, the nature of the differences between the U.S. and other countries can be quite dramatic in terms of the driving task and the driving scenes. One such difference is going to be the animal drawn vehicles aspects. As mentioned earlier, it is likely rare in the U.S. for an AI self-driving car to come upon animal drawn vehicles, while in certain other countries it would be considered commonplace.

For more about the international aspects for AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/internationalizing-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the use of AI self-driving cars for family trips, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/family-road-trip-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For street scene detection, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/street-scene-free-space-detection-self-driving-cars-road-ahead/

For conversing with an AI self-driving car, see my article: https://aitrends.com/features/socio-behavioral-computing-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

Humans And Self-Driving Car Interaction

Besides the AI self-driving car being able to detect directly whether or not an animal drawn vehicle is nearby, the AI might also be tipped to the possibility by a passenger in the AI self-driving car.

People that are riding in an AI self-driving car are likely going to want to carry on a dialogue with the AI system. Some AI developers only believe that the passengers will give a direction such as take me to the ballgame, and no other conversation will occur. This is narrow thinking and the reality is that people will want to interact with the AI, in the same fashion that they might interact with a human cab driver or a chauffeur.

As such, a human occupant might try to tell the AI that there is a horse drawn carriage over to the right of the road and the carriage waiting to proceed into traffic.

Perhaps the AI self-driving car is in New York City.

The human inside the self-driving car is concerned that the AI of the self-driving might not have detected the horse carriage and be worried that the AI is not going to take appropriate precautions. The concerned passenger of the self-driving car might then bring up the matter to alert the AI. Hopefully, the AI would have already detected the presence of the horse and carriage and reassure the human occupant that the AI realizes the matter and will be taking appropriate precautions.

Another means for the AI to potentially be aware of the presence of the animal drawn vehicle might be due to V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) electronic communications. Suppose that another AI self-driving car is a block ahead of your AI self-driving car. The AI of that self-driving car detects the presence of a horse drawn carriage. The AI might then broadcast out via V2V to other nearby AI self-driving cars that there is an animal drawn vehicle on the street and thus forewarn those other AI self-driving cars.

This same kind of electronic heads-up could come via V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) and possibly via V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian) communications.

Suppose that NYC decides to put up computers at various street corners to be able to aid in monitoring traffic, and perhaps one aspect involves those devices being aware of horse drawn carriages. Imagine that the traffic signals are controlled by those computing devices and purposely go quickly to a green light whenever a horse drawn carriage approaches the intersection. This might be a safety technique implemented to reduce the amount of time that the horse drawn carriages have to sit idle while waiting for a green light (I suppose tourists riding in the carriage would like the green lights too).

The NYC transportation department might setup computers at the street corners and include the use of V2I to broadcast out a warning, such as whenever there is an animal drawn vehicle at the corner. The AI self-driving cars that are equipped with V2I would then be forewarned about the presence of the horse drawn carriage.

In a similar manner, there are some that are envisioning that pedestrians will also be able to communicate with AI self-driving cars, doing so via electronic means referred to as V2P. It could be that a pedestrian, upon seeing a horse drawn carriage coming down 8th Street, might use their smart watch to send out a signal to then let nearby AI self-driving cars know that the animal drawn vehicle is there.

The detection of the animal drawn vehicle is the first part of the driving task for the AI system. The next step involves updating the virtual world model being used by the AI system. This is an internal kind of model that indicates where various objects are, as related to the position of the self-driving car, and also indicates the movement and direction of those objects. You might think of this as a kind of air traffic control capability, trying to monitor traffic and where it is and where it might be headed.

For my article about LIDAR, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/lidar-secret-sauce-self-driving-cars/

For defensive driving aspects of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/art-defensive-driving-key-self-driving-car-success/

For the pranking of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/pranking-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the boundaries of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ai-boundaries-and-self-driving-cars-the-driving-controls-debate/

Animals Can Be Wild

The really difficult part comes once the AI action planning component analyzes the virtual world model and determine what kinds of next driving actions are appropriate.

Animals can do wild things.

Of course, yes, I realize that humans can do wild things too. A human driving a car can wildly opt to veer across lanes or go head-on towards other cars. It happens. Generally, we live in a world whereby our usual expectation is that other human drivers are going to do rational things and drive relatively safely. If that were not the case, I assure you that we would have many more car accidents and traffic related deaths than we do today. It is a kind of miracle that each day we have millions upon millions of cars being driven on our roadways and we are not inundated in nonstop chaos and destruction. A miracle, I say!

Anyway, without offending any animal lovers, I hope we can agree that there is a chance that animals can do wild things too. The AI needs to be anticipating what the animal drawn vehicle might be doing and where and how it will be going next.

The animal drawn vehicle is most likely being driven by a human. In theory, the human driver is directing the animal. The animal is merely pulling the vehicle and not deciding where to go, nor deciding when to stop, when to turn, etc.

Consider that we might have a situation whereby the carriage driver is fighting with the animal drawing the carriage. It might be a horse that refuses to proceed ahead. Maybe the horse is reluctant to make a turn at the corner. Perhaps the horse has come to a halt in the middle of the street, either because it fears getting hit by a car or maybe just because it wants to come to a stop.

For more about AI self-driving car conspicuity, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/conspicuity-self-driving-cars-overlooked-crucial-capability/

For what AI self-driving cars might do when getting into an accident, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/accident-scene-traversal-self-driving-cars/

For the foibles of human drivers, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ten-human-driving-foibles-self-driving-car-deep-learning-counter-tactics/

For the debugging of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/debugging-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

The point being that an animal might overtake the efforts of the driver of the animal drawn vehicle.

The AI cannot assume that the human driver of the animal drawn vehicle will do the right thing in terms of directing the vehicle, and also that the human driver might want to do the right thing but be prevented or inhibited by the animal drawing the vehicle.

There is also the case of the animal drawn vehicle that has no human driver involved. This is rare and presumably only in cases wherein the human driver has perhaps failed to get into the carriage and let it loose, or maybe fallen out of the carriage, or fainted while in the carriage, etc.

The AI needs to be wary of the animal drawn carriage. It would be safest to provide as much leeway as possible, having the AI action plan targeting a sufficiently wide berth to the animal drawn carriage. Predicting the path of where the animal drawn carriage might go can be tricky. There should be multiple potential paths plotted, under the assumption that the animal might opt to go in some otherwise unsuspecting direction or the carriage driver might do so.

The AI should try to avoid any sudden moves of the car.

A quick acceleration or a sudden change of lanes can be alarming to the animal (and likely to the driver of the animal drawn vehicle).

Using the horn of the self-driving car would be generally ill-advised when around an animal drawn carriage.

My mentioning the horn on an AI self-driving car might seem peculiar to you.

What, the AI can use a horn?

AI self-driving car can in theory make use of its horn, which we all likely would hope might be done rather judiciously. Some AI developers have insisted that the AI should never use the horn at all. I think that’s a bit of an overkill and assert that having a horn and using it can be handy in certain circumstances. I’m not advocating that an AI self-driving car should be incessantly honking its horn and trying to draw attention or provoke other drivers. The horn should be used only when appropriate.

I refer to this as the conspicuousness of an AI self-driving car, which means there are times at which it will make a lot of sense for the AI self-driving car to be conspicuous.

The AI self-driving car should consider the animal drawn vehicle to be capable of the same kinds of maneuvers that a car might be able to make. The speed of the animal drawn vehicle is likely to be less than that of a speeding car, though a team of horses can get going pretty fast if they want to do so. In any case, the AI self-driving car should plan on going slowly when near to the animal drawn vehicle. Plus, it should have a ready-made escape plan, in case the animal drawn vehicle suddenly goes awry.

Conclusion

For most of us, an animal drawn vehicle is something quaint. We see them at tourist areas such as in NYC near Central Park. We might see them at parades. They might be seen at farms or ranches. In some parts of the world, animal drawn vehicles are a customary practice. They are continually in and around car traffic. That’s a fact of life in those areas.

An AI self-driving car needs to be prepared to cope with situations involving animal drawn vehicles. Treating an animal drawn vehicle as merely some kind of large-size unidentifiable blob that seems to be on the roadway is insufficient. The odds are that there will be ugly and untoward entanglements between naïve and ill-prepared AI self-driving cars and the real-world animal drawn vehicles that might be encountered. We’d all prefer savvy AI self-driving cars that are ready and able to contend with animal driven vehicles.

The horses, donkeys, mules, dogs, camels, and other beasts of burden will be thankful that the AI developers considered how to best assist and be compatible with those working animals.

Let’s all work on that!

This content is originally posted on AI Trends.