July 19th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
The UAE plans to help companies working on autonomous driving, including Tesla, accelerate their work. The Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Al Olama, spoke to BloombergTV and shared how the Gulf nation wants to boost its digital economy with leadership in this sector over the next 5 years. Dubai Future Lab, which is owned by Dubai Future Foundation, is also entering partnerships in this space, according to Minister Al Olama.
Minister Al Olama indicates they are trying to entice companies by providing them with data — but it’s not clear exactly what data he is referring to. “Usually it costs a lot of money for them to collect all this data, but as a government, we can collect it and then give it to them as an incentive to start up,” Al Olama explained.
In regards to Elon Musk, who recently said that Tesla is getting close to level 5 autonomy, which means its vehicles will be fully capable of driving themselves, Al Olama extended a warm invitation, saying that Elon Musk, Tesla, and its competitors were “welcome to come and start in Dubai.”
Last week, at a virtual AI conference, Elon Musk noted how close Tesla was to reaching level 5 autonomy. “I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen, and I think will happen very quickly. I think at Tesla, I feel like we are very close to level 5 autonomy. I think — I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year,” he said.
He also dove into the specifics of some of the smaller problems and explained that, while there were no fundamental challenges left, many small problems had popped up. “This is why you need a kind of real-world situation. Nothing is more complex and weird than the real world. Any simulation we create is necessarily a subset of the complexity of the real world,” said Elon Musk.
While the UAE’s economy, like others, took a punch from the coronavirus pandemic, the county was able to evolve and shift many of its economic activities online. The nation’s digital economy was boosted and Al Olama said, “The traditional economy has been hammered but the digital economy has been thriving.”
There are many questions regarding what will change when we truly do have self-driving cars. One interesting question is this: if the police is to pull over an autonomous vehicle that ran a stop sign, who gets the ticket? If there is no driver, technically, one isn’t driving the vehicle. A video of Tesla’s earlier Autopilot development (above) captured this scenario, and it was pretty funny — faked or not. The excuse — “my car did it, not me” — actually proved to be true in this video.
If you think that scenario above is interesting, imagine working in the fast-food industry and a driverless car shows up. These guys put a lot of effort into this video and it was pretty funny. “Yeet!,” said one employee.
One last funny video is a short compilation of reactions to Smart Summon. “I’m cutting hair and I look out the window and I went, ‘what the f***! There’s nobody in the car!,’” said one observer. Although fully self-driving vehicles that can pick up the kids from school aren’t here yet, it’s important that nations such as the UAE openly push for this to happen and work with the companies trying to make it happen.
The fact that a car can “see” stop signs and recognize them from a good distance is a technological marvel in and of itself. With Tesla getting closer to perfecting Level 5 autonomy, it’s mind-blowing to think that a computer can see everything around it and react or interact with things as they happen, as a normal person would do — or better than a normal person would do. Seeing a car recognize another car and stop is odd and surprising at first, but it is not rocket science. When I’m walking to the store, I can always sense a car or objects around me by using my peripheral vision. Teslas have cameras that mimic that but are much better. It has numerous eyes with superb, “super-human” vision. Why shouldn’t they be able to drive themselves? That said, seeing that they understand what is going on around them and can navigate streets full of human actions is kind of captivating.
The future of autonomy is thrilling, and the UAE is trying to be one of the first countries to reap the benefits. We’ll see how that plays out.
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