Kicking off the Machine Learning and Self-Driving Vehicles Series!


Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America has partnered with self-driving technology research firm Otto and industrial giant Bosch to host meetups with researchers, corporate leaders and other industry players to discuss the intersection of machine learning and self-driving vehicles. The first meetup was held on February 6, 2017 at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America HQ in Sunnyvale, California. Attendees listened to lectures featuring Faraday Future’s Jan Becker and UC Berkeley’s Anca Dragan, and also had the chance to interact with self-driving car prototypes from Mercedes-Benz, Otto and Bosch. Check out our recap of the event below, and stay tuned for future events in the series!

Self-driving technology grew from fantastical ideas to practical applications over the course of the last century. In 1918, a science fiction magazine first illustrated a type of self-driving vehicle; today, you can drive down the road in Palo Alto, only to realize the car next to you has no one in the driver’s seat.

At our February 6 event on machine learning and self-driving vehicles, Dr. Jan Becker of Faraday Future described these developments in self-driving car technology – from fiction to research and from industrial development to productization. Today, we see varying levels of autonomy ranging from parking assistance to vehicles requiring no human input at all. After Dr. Becker’s overview, Anca Dragan of UC Berkeley’s InterAct Lab detailed how these self-driving cars operate and how humans can teach and train these vehicles. To summarize, researchers are using machine learning to make autonomous vehicles more fluid and natural.

And after hearing the tale of self-driving technology, the message is clear: Machine learning is one of the main catalysts toward fully-automated self-driving cars.

The drawbacks of artificial intelligence and machine learning are in wide debate – so much so that Becker and Dragan joked about whether self-driving cars would take over the world, as movies often dramatize with robots and artificial intelligence. And there are many considerations that remain before self-driving technologies can gain deeper development and broader adoption.

Stay tuned for more deep dives on those technologies!

In the meantime, find some of the industry’s major questions around self-driving technology below along with some further reading.

  • When will self-driving technology become wholly reliable?
  • How will humans handle the transition to self-driving cars?
  • How safe is safe enough when it comes to self-driving cars?
  • What is ethically acceptable when it comes to information gathering, behaviors by cars?