Peter Stone's Selected Publications

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Mitigating Catastrophic Failure at Intersections of Autonomous Vehicles

Kurt Dresner and Peter Stone. Mitigating Catastrophic Failure at Intersections of Autonomous Vehicles. In AAMAS Workshop on Agents in Traffic and Transportation, pp. 78–85, Estoril, Portugal, May 2008.

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Abstract

Fully autonomous vehicles promise enormous gains in safety, efficiency, and economy for transportation. However, before such gains can be realized, a plethora of safety and reliability concerns must be addressed. In previous work, we have introduced a system for managing autonomous vehicles at intersections that is capable of handling more vehicles and causing fewer delays than modern-day mechanisms such as traffic lights and stop signs. While the system is safe under normal operating conditions, we have not discussed the possibility or implications of unforeseen mechanical failures. Because the system orchestrates such precarious ``close calls'' the tolerance for such errors is very low. In this paper, we make four main contributions. First, we introduce safety features of the system designed to deal with these types of failures. Second, we perform a basic failure mode analysis, demonstrating that without these features, the system is unsuitable for deployment due to a propensity for catastrophic failure modes. Third, we give extensive empirical evidence suggesting that not only is this method effective, but that it is so even when normal communications are disrupted. Finally, we provide an analysis of the data indicating that despite the apparent potential for disastrous accidents, autonomous intersection management is likely to improve driver safety considerably.

BibTeX Entry

@InProceedings{ATT08-dresner,
  author="Kurt Dresner and Peter Stone",
  title="Mitigating Catastrophic Failure at Intersections of Autonomous Vehicles",
  booktitle="{AAMAS} Workshop on Agents in Traffic and Transportation",
  address="Estoril, Portugal",
  month="May", year="2008",
  pages="78--85",
  abstract={
  Fully autonomous vehicles promise enormous gains in safety,
  efficiency, and economy for transportation.  However, before such
  gains can be realized, a plethora of safety and reliability concerns
  must be addressed.  In previous work, we have introduced a system
  for managing autonomous vehicles at intersections that is capable of
  handling more vehicles and causing fewer delays than modern-day
  mechanisms such as traffic lights and stop
  signs.  While the system is safe under
  normal operating conditions, we have not discussed the possibility
  or implications of unforeseen mechanical failures.  Because the
  system orchestrates such precarious ``close calls'' the tolerance
  for such errors is very low.  In this paper, we make four main
  contributions.  First, we introduce safety features of the system
  designed to deal with these types of failures.  Second, we perform a
  basic failure mode analysis, demonstrating that without these
  features, the system is unsuitable for deployment due to a
  propensity for catastrophic failure modes. Third, we give extensive
  empirical evidence suggesting that not only is this method
  effective, but that it is so even when normal communications are
  disrupted. Finally, we provide an analysis of the data indicating
  that despite the apparent potential for disastrous accidents,
  autonomous intersection management is likely to improve driver
  safety considerably.
  },
}

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