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Speeding Ticket Robots — Laws As Algorithms 400

An anonymous reader writes "As the age of autonomous cars and drone surveillance draws nearer, it's reasonable to expect government to increasingly automate enforcement of traffic laws. We already deal with red light cameras, speed limit cameras, and special lane cameras. But they aren't widespread, and there are a host of problems with them. Now, Ars reports on a group of academics who are attempting to solve the problem of converting simple laws to machine-readable code. They found that when the human filter was removed from the system, results became unreasonable very quickly. For example, if you aren't shy about going 5 mph over the limit, you'll likely break the law dozens of times during an hour of city driving. On the freeway, you might break it continuously for an hour. But it's highly unlikely you'd get more than one ticket for either transgression. Not so with computers (PDF): 'An automated system, however, could maintain a continuous flow of samples based on driving behavior and thus issue tickets accordingly. This level of resolution is not possible in manual law enforcement. In our experiment, the programmers were faced with the choice of how to treat many continuous samples all showing speeding behavior. Should each instance of speeding (e.g. a single sample) be treated as a separate offense, or should all consecutive speeding samples be treated as a single offense? Should the duration of time exceeding the speed limit be considered in the severity of the offense?' One of the academics said, 'When you're talking about automated enforcement, all of the enforcement has to be put in before implementation of the law—you have to be able to predict different circumstances.'"
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Speeding Ticket Robots — Laws As Algorithms

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  • Re:Reckless driving (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:30PM (#43406407) Homepage Journal

    It's the poorly defined "reckless driving" that should be ticketed and enforced... not the easily quantifiable speeding. Speeding doesn't cause accidents. It's the stupid folks who dunno how to drive.

    THIS, a million times over.

    The guy doing 90 MPH in the fast lane, but not riding asses or driving recklessly, is far less likely to cause an accident than the narcissistic highway nannies who will intentionally cut him off at 65 MPH, just to "teach that guy a lesson."

  • by jbresciani ( 2860867 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:32PM (#43406439)

    that's another good distinction.

      I've heard of semi drivers getting multiple tickets on the same stretch of road for going the same speed, once for going too fast, once for going too slow (compared to the rest of the traffic flow). Speeding should be a judgement call, not a fixed thing. Being above the limit by 15% on a nice, dry, sunny summer day isn't as bad as being 15% above on a snowy/icey winter morning/evening. So long as you're not driving like an ass

  • by EmperorArthur ( 1113223 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:43PM (#43406587) []

    Google's cars actually speed. The engineers quickly found (or knew beforehand) that obeying the traffic laws as written was a good way to either cause an accident, or never get to your destination.

  • Re:1984 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @06:24PM (#43406987) Journal
    Yes but that system works spectacularly well - far better than radar traps - because you have to stick to the speed limit over long stretches of driving not at isolated points in the road. Also you do not have to worry about keeping your eye on the speedometer every second because if your speed creeps a little high you can easily compensate by driving a little slower. Finally the one effect I have noted on some really busy roads is that the flow of traffic is a lot smoother because now everyone is going just under the speed limit.
  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @07:10PM (#43407309)

    It's more about driver intoxication level and the number of other vehicles on the road. 600 cars going 50 MPH on a one-mile stretch of 4-lane freeway is extremely dangerous. 60 cars going 80 MPH on that same mile of freeway is must less dangerous.

    The trouble is with making laws that can represent the danger inherent in widely varying situations. So we end with laws that make sense some of the time (at best) but have no rationale for existence at other times. For example, who cares if you run a red light at a rural intersection instead of waiting 2 minutes for the light to cycle when there are no other cars? The police will definitely ticket you if they see it, but there's nothing unsafe about stopping, looking both ways, and then proceeding if there is no cross traffic.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @07:25PM (#43407427) Journal

    rather than risk a speeding ticket every clock cycle.

    Won't happen - by then they'll have mandatory auto-kill switches installed in your car, and after you burn off all your points (state laws depending), it'll kill the engine and force you to wait for the obligatory patrol car and tow truck. Call it less than 5 miles (one station per mile) if you drive like I do.

    (I am curious though - did the folks in TFA consider Texas' 'flow of traffic' laws? Hell, you can get passed by an unconcerned patrol cruiser while you're doing 90 mph on the Sam Houston...)

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