The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Study Compares Human Drivers and Autonomous Vehicle Technologies

August 31, 2017

Photo of Waymo self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan courtesy of Fiat Chrysler.
Photo of Waymo self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan courtesy of Fiat Chrysler.

How do human driving skills — based on flesh-and-blood sensory perception, cognition and eye-hand coordination — measure up against autonomous vehicle technologies?

According to a new study, human drivers — when attentive, sober and well rested — still generally maintain an advantage in terms of reasoning, perception and sensing. But machines and computers are quite capable of performing tasks such as driving and have an edge in the areas of reaction time, power output and control, consistency and multichannel information processing.

The study, released by Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan, offers a scientific take on the man-versus-machine driving debate. Human eyes, for example, are compared to autonomous vehicle radar, LIDAR and camera systems.

One advantage that people have is that their sensory powers are in a much more compact package.

“Matching (or exceeding) human sensing capabilities requires AVs [autonomous vehicles] to employ a variety of sensors, which in turn requires complete sensor fusion across the system, combining all sensor inputs to form a unified view of the surrounding roadway and environment,” the report noted. “While no single sensor completely equals human sensing capabilities, some offer capabilities not possible for a human driver (e.g., accurate distance measurement with lidar, seeing through inclement weather with radar.”

A fully connected autonomous vehicle — one that employs dedicated short-range communications, for example, to exchange data with other vehicles and infrastructure — offers the best potential to effectively and safely replace the human driver when operating vehicles at automation levels 4 (high automation) and 5 (full automation), according to the study.

Brandon Schoettle, a project manager at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s Human Factors Group, authored the report.

Below is a table summarizing some of his findings:

Performance aspect

Human

AV Radar

AV LIDAR

AV Camera

Connected vehicle with DSRC

Connected autonomous vehicle

Object detection

Good

Good

Good

Fair

n/a

Good

Object classification

Good

Poor

Fair

Good

n/a

Good

Distance estimation

Fair

Good

Good

Fair

Good

Good

Edge detection

Good

Poor

Good

Good

n/a

Good

Lane tracking

Good

Poor

Poor

Good

n/a

Good

Visibility range

Good

Good

Fair

Fair

Good

Good

Poor weather performance

Fair

Good

Fair

Poor

Good

Good

Dark or low illumination performance

Poor

Good

Good

Fair

n/a

Good

Ability to communicate with other traffic and infrastructure

Poor

n/a

n/a

n/a

Good

Good

Source: “Sensor Fusion: A Comparison of Sensing Capabilities of Human Drivers and Highly Automated Vehicles,” released by Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan. DSRC refers to dedicated short-range communications.

Twitter Facebook Google+

Comments

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
 
 

Fleet Incentives

Determine the actual cost of owning and running a vehicle in your fleet. Compare vehicles by class and model.

FleetFAQ

Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Todd Ewing from Fleetmatics will answer your questions and challenges

View All

 

Fleet Management And Leasing

Merchants Experts will answer your questions and challenges

View All

 

Sponsored by

Saunders was chairman of the board of Saunders Leasing System, one of the major national companies specializing in full service leasing of trucks, truck-tractors, and trailers

Read more

Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher