New York (The Verge) — Watch Cruise’s self-driving cars perform 1,400 unprotected left turns in 24 hours theverge.com/2019/5/23/1863….
Cruise, the self-driving division of General Motors, knows left turns are hard. In a video just published, the company calls unprotected left turns “one of the most difficult maneuvers” a self-driving car can perform. And then the company proceeds to brag that its self-driving cars routinely execute 1,400 unprotected lefts every day in the complex environment of San Francisco.
Why are left turns so difficult? It’s because they require self-driving cars to be both cautious and assertive at the same time. The vehicle needs to nudge its front end into oncoming traffic while its sensors scan for a gap between cars. Human drivers can communicate nonverbally with other drivers using hand gestures or eye movements; robot cars lack those advantages.
“Unprotected lefts are one of the trickiest things you can do in driving,” Nathaniel Fairfield, a software engineer who leads the behavior team at Waymo, told Popular Science earlier this year. — Andrew J. Hawkins/@verge