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Will Pedestrians in Urban Neighbourhood feel comfortable in a world full of Self-driving Cars?

Autonomous vehicles may facilitate a shift towards pedestrian-oriented urban neighborhoods

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Picture with a sign for pedestrians. Wikimedia Commons
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October 31, 2016: What would it be like to be a pedestrian in an urban neighborhood where most of the cars are self-driving? Actually, pretty good, suggests new research.

Self-driving cars are by design risk-averse and they are programmed to obey the rules of the road, including waiting for pedestrians to cross, the researchers said.

“Autonomous vehicles have the potential to transform travel behavior,” said study author Adam Millard-Ball, Assistant Professor at University of California – Santa Cruz, US.

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Secure in the knowledge that a car will yield, pedestrians merely need to act unpredictably or step into the street to force the risk-averse car to stop, said the study that looked at the prospect of urban areas where a majority of vehicles are “autonomous” or self-driving.

The research, published online in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, uses game theory to analyze the interactions between pedestrians and self-driving vehicles, with a focus on yielding at crosswalks.

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Because autonomous vehicles are by design risk-averse, Millard-Ball’s model suggests that pedestrians will be able to act with impunity, and he thinks autonomous vehicles may facilitate a shift towards pedestrian-oriented urban neighborhoods.

However, the study also suggests that the potential benefits of self-driving cars — avoiding tedium of traffic and trauma of collisions — may be outweighed by the drawbacks of an always play-it-safe vehicle that slows traffic for everybody.

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“From the point of view of a passenger in an automated car, it would be like driving down a street filled with unaccompanied five-year-old children,” Millard-Ball wrote. (IANS)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google asks employees to delete China search engine memo: Report. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?