Tech&Science

Self-driving cars learning to see better at night

Can your self-driving car “see” better at night?

Science magazine

We saw that self-driving cars can detect signs, intersects and vehicles ahead. But if its rainy or dark, this may make it too difficult for an autonomous car to confidently “see” them.

To solve this issue, researchers at Sookmyung Women’s University and Yonsei University in Seoul focused on the relative reflectiveness of road signs according to Science magazine. Their approach requires autonomous cars to continuously capture images of their surroundings. Each image is evaluated by a machine learning algorithm—a computer program that can quickly look through an image and decide whether it matches a known pattern.

In this case, the algorithm is looking for a section of the image that is likely to contain a sign. It’s able to simultaneously evaluate multiple sections of the image—a departure from previous systems that considered parts of an image one by one. At this stage, it’s possible it will also detect irrelevant signs placed along roads.

Kang-Hyun Jo, a self-driving car researcher at the University of Ulsan in South Korea who is not involved with the research, says it would be impossible for a self-driving car to safely navigate a complex road environment without a strong traffic sign recognition system.

“Autonomous cars should see and recognize arbitrary objects because we can’t guarantee what happens outside ourselves. To perform this task, it is so important to figure out and identify the information that directly endows the car with safe navigation.”

We also think that it may be possible in the near future.

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