Mercedes-Benz teaches autonomous cars how to talk.
The first words.
The fact that cars are able to perform more and more tasks autonomously, meaning that they are gradually becoming mobile robots, is now beyond dispute. This will not just lead to changes in motoring itself, however; traffic conditions on the whole will change, too. This is why Mercedes-Benz looks at much more than just the technical issues when developing autonomous cars. Company representatives from the Group Research and Futurology department therefore met with robotics research experts and linguists to discuss the key issues at the second Mercedes-Benz Future Talk: How will we communicate with autonomous cars in the future? Can an autonomous car “wave” a pedestrian over the road? Is the car speaking to me or to the person next to me?
And what does “speaking” even mean in this context? Will we have to learn robot grammar or must the car be able to understand us? And how can this language be developed? Should it be intuitive or artificial?
“The traffic of the future will become increasingly interactive – and I don’t just mean the networking of vehicles,” stated Prof. Dr. Kohler, Head of Group Research and Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler AG. “We view it as our elementary task to put autonomous cars
on the road not just as technological achievements but also to make them an integral part of the traffic of the future. Here the social aspects are at least equally important as the sensors in the car.”
Mobility of the future.
Alexander Mankowsky, a futurologist at Daimler AG, added: “We see the car that drives itself – the autonomous robot – embedded in the overall picture of future mobility, with humans playing the main role in our vision of the future. The task is to develope a cooperative system in which one or more communication languages are essential to allow interaction between humans and machine intelligence in the dense urban environment.” He also thinks that there may even be a robot-language dictionary in the future. According to Mankowsky, calling for people to adapt to the machines should not be the aim by any means in any of the deliberations. It is much more a case of building trust and confidence as human-machine communication gets more and more intensive.