For those who believe that all transportation problems can be solved by artificial intelligence, examine this scenario.

We like to complain about ourselves. That, in this world, there are far too many stupid drivers. We cannot wait till automation comes in and takes drivers out of the driver’s seat. However we are starting to understand just how complicated the world is. In its infancy automation has a long way to go before it matches the human ability to adjust to unusual situations. Consider the above photo.

A green traffic signal tells the driver of the SUV in the foreground to proceed forward. Yet the driver remains stopped because there is a traffic control person holding a stop sign. Meanwhile, across the intersection, another traffic control person holds an identical sign indicating “proceed forward slowly”. It will take a lot of artificial intelligence to sort out this mess – yes, caused by humans. Maybe we need robots to take up the duties of roadway construction?

In reality, humans are complex and intelligent creatures. If we can be convinced to obey traffic signals, maximum speed signs, put down the cell phones and so many other things that cause us grief, we could create a very safe environment. But that will never happen. We have so many other “important” things in our lives. Automated vehicles sound like the obvious solution, but they still cannot replace the complex human reasoning needed to evaluate more complicated traffic scenarios.