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Indian Origin Team Develops Model For Safer Self-driving Cars

"When the system is deployed into the real world, it can use learned model to act more cautiously and intelligently," said Ramakrishnan

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Uber began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and is now rolling out the service in San Francisco. (Uber), VOA

A team of Indian American researchers has developed a novel model that uses human inputs to uncover Artificial Intelligence (AI) “blind spots” in self-driving cars, so that the vehicles can avoid dangerous errors in the real world.

The model developed by MIT and Microsoft researchers identifies instances in which autonomous systems have “learned” from training examples that don’t match what’s actually happening in the real world.

Engineers could use this model to improve the safety of AI systems, such as driverless vehicles and autonomous robots.

“The model helps autonomous systems better know what they don’t know,” said first author Ramya Ramakrishnan from Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT.

“Many times, when these systems are deployed, their trained simulations don’t match the real-world setting [and] they could make mistakes, such as getting into accidents.

“The idea is to use humans to bridge that gap between simulation and the real world, in a safe way, so we can reduce some of those errors,” explained Ramakrishnan.

Waymo, driverless cars
Waymo has been giving rides to a group of volunteer passengers in Arizona in driverless cars since last year. Flickr

The AI systems powering driverless cars are trained extensively in virtual simulations to prepare the vehicle for nearly every event on the road.

But sometimes the car makes an unexpected error in the real world because an event occurs that should, but doesn’t, alter the car’s behaviour.

The researchers validated their method using video games, with a simulated human correcting the learned path of an on-screen character.

The next step is to incorporate the model with traditional training and testing approaches for autonomous cars and robots with human feedback.

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Co-authors on the papers are Julie Shah, an associate professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and head of the CSAIL’s Interactive Robotics Group; and Ece Kamar, Debadeepta Dey, and Eric Horvitz — all from Microsoft Research.

“When the system is deployed into the real world, it can use learned model to act more cautiously and intelligently,” said Ramakrishnan. (IANS)

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Recent Tax Cuts to Increase Sales of Automobile Sector

Lower automobile costs resulting from the recent tax sops announced to prop-up growth and reverse the economic slowdown and accelerate sector's sales

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automobile, cars, tax, growth
Not just reduced prices but even an expected up-tick in investment, courtesy the savings afforded by the tax sops, will aid the commercial vehicle segment. Pixabay

Lower automobile costs resulting from the recent tax sops announced to prop-up growth and reverse the economic slowdown, along with the upcoming festive season offers, have the potential to accelerate the sector’s sales, industry insiders said.

Market observers contended that reducing effective corporate tax rate to 25.17 per cent (inclusive of all cess and surcharges) from 30 per cent for all domestic companies will allow more auto firms to reduce prices.

At present, Maruti Suzuki has announced an immediate Rs 5,000 cut in the prices of its bestselling cars.

Besides, other companies such as Bajaj Auto, Piaggio India and Isuzu Motors India too have announced festive season discounts.

“Lower prices can increase demand incrementally, but cannot be expected to boost demand significantly,” Sridhar V., Partner at Grant Thornton India LLP, told IANS.

“Increase in liquidity will also help in increasing borrowings and thereby impacting buyers’ interest positively,” he added.

According to Fitch Ratings Associate Director Snehdeep Bohra: “Lower tax can help auto OEMs cut prices.

“But the overall scope for price reduction (as percentage of existing price) may not be very big in itself to spur demand… Improvement in sentiment and passing on of lower interest rates will be key.”

Not just reduced prices but even an expected up-tick in investment, courtesy the savings afforded by the tax sops, will aid the commercial vehicle segment.

“The effective corporate tax reduction is indeed a big supply side reform and should help spur investment cycle, which has been perpetually crippled,” Madhavi Arora, economist with Edelweiss Securities, told IANS.

“However, the supply side tax reforms generally have relatively long term economic returns, albeit impacting the revenue side in the near term,” Arora said.

At present, the automobile industry is suffering from a slowdown caused by several factors such as high GST rates, farm distress, stagnant wages and liquidity constraints.

automobile, cars, tax, growth
The key sectors to benefit from GST rate cuts are hotels, gems & jewellery, defence and automobiles. Pixabay

The industry’s sales and production levels have dramatically plunged, leading to job losses. In August, all major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) comprising passenger, commercial, two and three-wheeler manufacturers have reported massive decline in domestic sales.

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As per the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ (SIAM) August sales figures, the overall sectoral offtake in the domestic market has plunged 23.55 per cent to 1,821,490 units, from 2,382,436 units sold during the corresponding month of the previous year.

Moreover, the industry has estimated that around 15,000 contractual manufacturing jobs have been lost and another million are at risk if the slowdown is not reversed. (IANS)