Sleeping Inside an AI Autonomous Self-Driving Car

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Sleeping in the car is likely to become commonplace as AI self-driving cars become more prevalent.

By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider

(Ed. Note: For reader’s interested in Dr. Eliot’s ongoing business analyses about the advent of self-driving cars, see his online Forbes column: https://forbes.com/sites/lanceeliot/)

When I was working on my doctorate degree (some years ago, admittedly), doing so at a prominent west coast university, I decided that during the summer break I would go visit various doctoral colleagues that were doing their PhDs at east coast universities, along with meeting faculty at those institutions as a form of introduction about my research and efforts. I was going to fly to the east coast on the cheapest flight I could find and would have to pinch pennies during the multi-week adventure. I would be using a low-end super-cheap compact rental car to drive to campuses such as MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. and it would be my largest overall expense for the trip.

I was a starving student at the time and was trying to stay within a minimal budget for the trip.

Once I arrived to the east coast and had picked-up the rental car, I drove to the first of the series of campus visits. I had not booked any hotels as yet and figured that once I got to a particular university, I’d find a nearby inexpensive hotel to stay the night and then continue onward to the next campus. Upon trying to find a hotel that first night, I discovered that the only rooms available were quite highly priced and it seemed a shame to pay such an exorbitant cost for just a place to sleep for the night.

I decided therefore to sleep in the rental car for the night.

Sounds kind of questionable, I realize. since I was not destitute per se. It just seemed like the easiest way and most practical approach to do things at the time.

No need to check-in and check-out and I would avoid the hotel cost.

When I had walked around the campus and met with some of the doctoral students, they showed me the campus gym and explained that anyone could make use of it, though this was not publicized per se. In essence, even a non-student of the campus could use the gym. I decided that since I was going to sleep in my car, I could use the campus gym the next morning to get a shower and shave and be tidied-up accordingly and be prepared for visiting the next campus on my list.

Overall, this is the same methodology I used for the entire trip.

I would drive to the next campus on my list, stay the day and make visits with various contacts, sleep the night in my rental car, get up and use the campus gym, and then proceed onward to the next destination. I actually somewhat enjoyed the adventure of it. Besides avoiding the cost of the hotels, it was logistically a lot easier to simply find a place to park the car and get some shut-eye.

I did learn some handy lessons about sleeping in a car.

My Personal Journey

First, I slept in the backseat since the front seats were separate bucket seats and it would not be possible to sleep across the two seats.

When I tried to recline the driver’s seat all the way back to see if I could sleep in that position, it would not go far enough back to let me lay relatively prone. If I slept in the front row driver’s seat it would be like sleeping in a seat on a plane. I opted instead to sleep in the backseat since I could lay down. Unfortunately, I was too tall and could not completely stretch out, but this was not too bad and if I merely curled-up I was able to passably sleep on the backseat.

For the first night, I had parked on-campus in a parking lot that was near to the research building that I visited my fellow doctoral students.

I did not realize that there was a rule that no overnight parking was allowed in that parking lot. Sure enough, at about 3 a.m., a campus security guard tried to put a ticket on my windshield. In so doing, he noticed that there was a human actually in the car (that was me!) and rapped on the car window to awaken me. I groggily rolled down the window and he explained that I could not stay parked there. I apologized and woke-up sufficiently to go find a different place to park my rental car and then continue my snooze.

I was wearing my jacket as I slept in the rental car at night, but eventually I realized that I was stinking up my jacket by my evening sleeping and it would have to last me during the daylight hours too.

I went and purchased an inexpensive blanket so that I could use it over me when I was sleeping in the car. I selected a blanket that was nondescript and the colors matched the interior of the car. I thought this would be a means to disguise my sleeping in the backseat. Anyone that looked into the window of the car would only see a bland looking blanket that happened to be somewhat bulky looking, which was due to the fact that it had me underneath it.

Part of the reason that I wanted to be covered while sleeping in the backseat was due to the aspect that people tend to look into the car during the late evening and early morning hours.

I never realized that people would be nosy enough to glance into cars, but they do. I was surprised on the first few nights to have quite a number of walking passerby’s that looked into the car. Keep in mind that I was relatively well hidden at this point and so it wasn’t as though they had somehow caught a glimpse of a person inside the car and thus naturally would have gotten their curiosity going. I was tempted to put up makeshift window shades to give me some greater privacy, though it seemed a bit extreme and also I assumed it might actually draw undue attention to the car.

I learned the hard way that light and sound can be a significant factor in sleeping.

When I got to the third campus of my journey, I parked in the morning in a parking lot that seemed to allow for overnight parking. What I failed to notice was that I had parked directly under a street light that was setup in the parking lot. In fact, this parking lot happened to have some of the brightest night time lighting I had ever seen. When I settled into the car for my night’s sleep, I tried to pull the blanket entirely over my head and hoped that the light would not impact my sleep. It kept me up for most of the night.

Speaking of light, there’s nothing like the morning sunrise to also potentially wake you up. Most of the trip, I tended to get up once the sun had risen. This was partially due to the light that shone inside the car, and also due to the aspect that the car would start to get rather warm inside as the sun beats down on the exterior of the car. The heating of the interior and the lights were enough to wake me up, and I dare say probably wake-up most people.

In terms of sounds, I am a relatively light sleeper and have a tendency to wake-up if there are strong sounds or unusual sounds. I was sleeping even more lightly too due to sleeping inside a car. I dreaded the possibility that vandals might try to break into my car, doing so while I was sleeping in it. Or, suppose a car thief opted to try and break-in and steal the car. Imagine me on national TV, waving frantically while in the back-seat, essentially being car-jacked, though the thief might have only been seeking to steal the rental car and did not realize a human was in the backseat.

Anyway, the sounds of people walking past the car were usually not enough to awaken me. But, on several occasions, having parked mainly on college campuses, there would be those drunken undergrads (well, Okay, I realize they might have been grad students too) wandering around and yelling and screaming and having a good old time. This woke me up. One time a street sweeper came up to my car and swept around it. The sounds woke me up. Generally, there were a wide variety of sounds and most of the time it would stir me to wake-up.

In case you are wondering whether I unduly weathered the interior of the rental car, I assure you that when I turned-in the rental car it was no worse for the wear due to my sleeping in it. You would not have had any means of knowing that I had slept in the car. The best news was that I saved literally several thousand dollars by avoiding the nightly costs of being in a hotel over those many weeks of my trip.

Also, I only sleep about 6 hours a night anyway and so mainly did things at the campuses until late in the evening, got into my “sleeper” usually past midnight, and was up and going once the sun rose. Why use a hotel for such a short stint, was my thinking at the time. Furthermore, the college campuses had all the other resources I needed. I was able to work out, shower, change clothes, wash clothes, and do other such chores at the campuses.

It was quite a memorable several weeks and I realize now that sleeping in my car seems a bit off-putting to most people when I tell the story of it.

I didn’t tell anyone at the time that I was doing so and knew that if I did, they would think it was quite peculiar. In my mind, I didn’t see any difference between renting an RV and using it to drive around and then use it for sleeping at night and doing the same thing with a conventional car. Sure, the conventional car is not quite as accommodating, but the idea is the same. The notion was to use the vehicle that got you from place to place as the means to also sleep in it. That seemed logical to me.

Would you look askance at someone that rented an RV for a several weeks trip?

I think not.

Some More Facets About Sleeping Inside Cars

As an aside, I read once that humans supposedly have evolved in a manner such that we prefer to sleep in a cool and dark location, one that is relatively noiseless, something akin to a cave.

This makes sense since it would be best to be in a protected place to be somewhat safe from predators and also mitigate the outdoors environmental conditions while you are sleeping. My rental car was my cave. It just so happened that I was a mobile cave, in the sense that I was able to take my cave with me.

For more about the nature of sleeping and especially dreaming, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/sleeping-ai-mechanism-self-driving-cars/

Several years after my starving student trip, I came to realize that sleeping inside a car can have nearly magical properties.

Here’s the skinny on that.

When my children were first born, they sometimes at night would have a hard time sleeping. As anyone with newborns knows, babies can have the worst sleeping cycles. You might find yourself never getting much sleep during the night as they awaken frequently and unexpectedly. It could be they have some gas in their stomach and need to burp it out. It could be they have a full diaper that needs changing. It could be that they just aren’t sleepy anymore. It could be a thousand different reasons.

After several nights of being continually disrupted in trying to sleep when they were sleeping, I had a thought that prompted me to try something. Whenever I had driven the kids to see the doctor or over to go shopping, they tended to fall asleep in their baby seats in the car. I would have to awaken then when we reached our destination. It was nearly a sure fire way to presumably get them to fall asleep.

I decided to give this a try late one night when they were fussing and would not go to sleep. I drove around the neighborhood with them safely tucked away in their baby seats. Sure enough, they fell asleep. It was a miracle! I assumed it was either the motion of the car that soothed them, or perhaps it was the feeling of being snugly packed into their car seat, or some other such reason. I didn’t really care why it worked, it just plain worked and that was good enough.

Once they seemed fully immersed in sleep, I would drive back to the house and gingerly move them into the house. If I did anything jarring or made any sudden moves, they would awaken right away. Most of the time, by treading very carefully, I was able to use the short car drive to get them into a sleeping state, and then transfer them into the house and they would remain asleep for quite some time. This was obviously better than trying to give them some kind of prescribed or over-the-counter medication to get them to sleep.

This method was far more effective than rocking their baby sleeper by hand or putting them into one of those automatic rocking baby carriages.

The car seemed to have magical powers.

It could get them into a sleeping mode that was assured. The funny thing is that to this day, now they are much older, and they report that they do sometimes find themselves starting to fall asleep when a passenger in a car at nighttime. Did I create a habit that now will be with them forever? Or, was I merely tapping into a natural born instinct? Another one of life’s mysteries of nature versus nurture.

I don’t want you to assume that there weren’t some potential downsides to the nighttime sleeping drives. There were some occasions that they would fall victim to motion sickness. I felt bad about that. It would seem to make their tummies go sour and they might spit-up because of it. Luckily, this was relatively rare. There are some people that are quite prone to motion sickness while inside a moving car. They seemed to not succumb to this and it was rare that they exhibited any car motion sickness symptoms.

For more about car motion sickness, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/kinetosis-anti-motion-sickness-ai-self-driving-cars/

AI Autonomous Self-Driving Cars And Sleeping Inside Them

What does this have to do with AI driverless self-driving autonomous cars?

At the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute, we are developing AI software for self-driving cars. One aspect that can be expected to occur would be that people will likely want to sleep in their AI self-driving cars, doing so from time-to-time. As such, the AI ought to be established to appropriately deal with sleeping human occupants.

Allow me to elaborate.

I’d like to first clarify and introduce the notion that there are varying levels of AI self-driving cars. The topmost level is considered Level 5. A Level 5 self-driving car is one that is being driven by the AI and there is no human driver involved. For the design of Level 5 self-driving cars, the automakers are even removing the gas pedal, the brake pedal, and steering wheel, since those are contraptions used by human drivers. The Level 5 self-driving car is not being driven by a human and nor is there an expectation that a human driver will be present in the self-driving car. It’s all on the shoulders of the AI to drive the car.

For self-driving cars less than a Level 5, there must be a human driver present in the car. The human driver is currently considered the responsible party for the acts of the car. The AI and the human driver are co-sharing the driving task. In spite of this co-sharing, the human is supposed to remain fully immersed into the driving task and be ready at all times to perform the driving task. I’ve repeatedly warned about the dangers of this co-sharing arrangement and predicted it will produce many untoward results.

For my overall framework about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/framework-ai-self-driving-driverless-cars-big-picture/

For the levels of self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/richter-scale-levels-self-driving-cars/

For why AI Level 5 self-driving cars are like a moonshot, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/self-driving-car-mother-ai-projects-moonshot/

For the dangers of co-sharing the driving task, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/human-back-up-drivers-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

Let’s focus herein on the true Level 5 self-driving car. Much of the comments apply to the less than Level 5 self-driving cars too, but the fully autonomous AI self-driving car will receive the most attention in this discussion.

Here’s the usual steps involved in the AI driving task:

  • Sensor data collection and interpretation 
  • Sensor fusion 
  • Virtual world model updating 
  • AI action planning 
  • Car controls command issuance

Another key aspect of AI self-driving cars is that they will be driving on our roadways in the midst of human driven cars too. There are some pundits of AI self-driving cars that continually refer to a utopian world in which there are only AI self-driving cars on public roads. Currently there are about 250+ million conventional cars in the United States alone, and those cars are not going to magically disappear or become true Level 5 AI self-driving cars overnight.

Indeed, the use of human driven cars will last for many years, likely many decades, and the advent of AI self-driving cars will occur while there are still human driven cars on the roads. This is a crucial point since this means that the AI of self-driving cars needs to be able to contend with not just other AI self-driving cars, but also contend with human driven cars. It is easy to envision a simplistic and rather unrealistic world in which all AI self-driving cars are politely interacting with each other and being civil about roadway interactions. That’s not what is going to be happening for the foreseeable future. AI self-driving cars and human driven cars will need to be able to cope with each other.

For my article about the grand convergence that has led us to this moment in time, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/grand-convergence-explains-rise-self-driving-cars/

See my article about the ethical dilemmas facing AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ethically-ambiguous-self-driving-cars/

For potential regulations about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/assessing-federal-regulations-self-driving-cars-house-bill-passed/

For my predictions about AI self-driving cars for the 2020s, 2030s, and 2040s, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/gen-z-and-the-fate-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

AI And Sleeping Humans

Returning to the topic of sleeping inside an AI self-driving car, let’s consider some of the ramifications about doing so and how the AI should be designed and developed to accommodate this likely aspect.

Let’s start by dividing up the matter into two parts, there is the situation of sleeping while in a moving car, and a separate matter involves sleeping in a parked car.

My story about having visited numerous college campuses and sleeping in my car overnight is an example of sleeping in a parked car. I had mentioned several lessons learned from that experience.

An AI self-driving car should presumably be a “partner” in assisting any human occupants that might want to sleep inside the AI self-driving car when it is parked. This consists of the AI offering to find a suitable place to park the AI self-driving car.

I realize that some pundits would say that it is not up to the AI to help determine where to park the self-driving car and that instead this is a matter entirely for the human occupants to decide.

I’d vote instead that it be a two-way street, of sorts, in that the human occupants might offer ideas or suggestions of where to park the self-driving car, of which the AI might try and ascertain the suitability. Likewise, the AI might offer suggestions and see what the human occupants think of the proposed locations. This would be an interactive NLP (Natural Language Processing) dialogue between the human occupants and the AI.

The AI might have a sophisticated GPS and mapping system access that could let it know whether the place to park is appropriate. Perhaps it is illegal to park where the human occupants want to sleep inside the car. Maybe it’s a location that is rampant with crime and thus might be considered riskier to park there for sleeping purposes. And so on.

In fact, there are some that predict that in the future, since AI self-driving cars will be prevalent, and since people will be using their AI self-driving cars 24×7, we might have special parking areas for those that want to indeed sleep inside their AI self-driving car. The AI system might have access to a database indicating those locations.

Perhaps it might even use a blockchain for purposes of booking and paying to be able to park there.

For my article about NLP, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/car-voice-commands-nlp-self-driving-cars/

For more about conversing with AI, see my article: https://aitrends.com/features/socio-behavioral-computing-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

For my article about 24×7 of self-driving cars, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/non-stop-ai-self-driving-cars-truths-and-consequences/

For my article about blockchain, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/blockchain-self-driving-cars-using-p2p-distributed-ledgers-bitcoin/

Please realize that the future might be quite different than things are today.

I mention this because it might become relatively commonplace to sleep inside your parked AI self-driving car. In my case of sleeping in a rental car for my campuses journey, it seemed likely odd to you.

It is predicted that due to the ridesharing economy that will be spurred by the advent of AI self-driving cars, sleeping inside an AI self-driving car will be considered ordinary and routine.

Advent Of Self-Driving Cars As Sleeper Vehicles

Why will things be different about sleeping in a car?

First, you will be able to presumably go greater distances by having an AI automated system that can drive your car for you.

Rather than taking a train that perhaps has a sleeper compartment, you might instead just get into your AI self-driving car and tell it to drive you from say Los Angeles to Chicago. You’ll likely sleep inside the AI self-driving car during that lengthy trip.

Also, the interior of AI self-driving cars will likely be different than the interior of today’s conventional cars. If you remove the driver controls such as the steering wheel and pedals, you no longer need to have a driver’s seat that is fixed into position at the front of the car. Instead, most designs suggest that we’ll have swivel seats in AI self-driving cars, allowing the human occupants to swivel around and see each other directly and chat with each other. No more of the backseat facing the backs of the front seat passengers.

It is also envisioned that the swivel seats might be convertible into being sleeper seats. They either will recline to allow for sleeping, or maybe connect with each other to make a bed, or perhaps be removable and you can readily place inside a sleeper “seat” when you know in-advance that you are going to be sleeping during a driving trip.

For some people it is hard to imagine a future in which we all will be willingly and purposely wanting to sleep in our cars. Today, you usually only hear about sleeping in a car when it is someone that is homeless and has no other choice of a place to sleep. In fact, here in Los Angeles, there is an ongoing heated debate about sleeping in cars. Where should someone be allowed to sleep in their car? Do they need to move the car every so often or can they park it in-place and leave it there? Does sleeping in cars potentially raise health concerns and other societal considerations? And so on.

As a society, we are likely to go from perceiving sleeping in a car as something untoward to instead it will become a norm of a kind. When I say this, please note that there is a difference between “living” in your car and sleeping from time-to-time in your car. If you park a car at a spot and leave it there for months at a time and sleep and live out of it, this seems different than using an AI self-driving car that generally is going to be in-motion and from time-to-time will need to park someplace. The parking would also likely include recharging the car, assuming that it is an Electrical Vehicle (EV), along with letting the human occupants sleep too.

Overall, one would expect that an AI self-driving car will nearly always be in-motion rather than sitting someplace for someone to sleep in it. The cost of the AI self-driving car is likely to be affordable by being offset by the money that can be made by using it as a ridesharing service. One would assume that the human occupants will pay mainly for the time that the AI self-driving car is taking them to their desired destination. When the AI self-driving car is parked, it is less likely to be making money.

Of course, there are some ridesharing arrangements that will likely include the ability to pay for sleeping while the AI self-driving car is parked. It’s another way to make some bucks.

For more about ridesharing, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ridesharing-services-and-ai-self-driving-cars-notably-uber-in-or-uber-out/

For the affordability of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/affordability-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the dangers of robojacking, see my article: https://aitrends.com/features/robojacking-self-driving-cars-prevention-better-ai/

For the use of virtual spike strips, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/virtual-spike-strips-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

Dangers Of Robojacking

One potential danger about parking an AI self-driving car just anyplace might be the potential for robojacking.

Robojacking involves someone trying to steal your AI self-driving car, and you are inside of it when they do so.

Remember how I mentioned that when I was parking on college campuses that I dreaded the possibility of a car thief trying to steal my car when I was “hiding” inside on the backseat while sleeping?

The same worry could occur with AI self-driving cars.

Some would argue that it makes little sense for a car thief to merely steal the AI self-driving car itself, because presumably the only humans allowed to give commands to the AI would be those properly registered to do so. Therefore, the car thieves will have an incentive to only steal the AI self-driving car when there is a human occupant in it, and presumably they can pressure the human occupant to instruct the AI self-driving car for them in their heinous crime.

That’s an adverse consequence, for sure.

Sleeping Inside A Moving Autonomous Car

I’d like to next consider the aspects of sleeping as it relates to being in a moving AI self-driving car.

Recall that I told the story of using my conventional car to take my young children for late night short drives to get them to fall asleep. That’s an example of a car being in-motion and sleeping in it. With the advent of true Level 5 AI self-driving cars, no longer will we have a human driver that might inadvertently fall asleep at the wheel.  There isn’t a human driver involved at all. Instead, any of the human occupants being chauffeured by the AI can opt to fall asleep whenever they darned well please to do so.

One prediction is that people might choose to live much further from work than they do today.

The logic is that they can merely get into their AI self-driving car and tell it to take them to work. They can even catch some extra winks during the commute. Here in Los Angeles, it is rather ordinary to have a commute time of one to two hours for driving to work. I realize you might urge us to use mass transit, but that’s not really taken ahold and instead people continue to drive their cars.

Your commute of one to two hours might consist of you sleeping inside your AI self-driving car while it drives you to work or brings you home after a workday. You might also decide to live further away from work, maybe living further away allows you to get a larger piece of property and at a cheaper price than living closer to work. The nice thing is you don’t need to worry about the driving, since it will be done for you by the AI. Plus, you can sleep while it is doing the driving.

Let’s consider this notion of sleeping while the AI is driving the self-driving car.

First, you’d need to be rather trusting to be willing to fall asleep while the AI is driving the self-driving car. I would argue that your trust is presumably already going to be high if you are even allowing the AI to drive the self-driving car when you are awake. In other words, if you are awake and it is driving, there is not much you are going to be doing about the driving task anyway. You aren’t expected to intervene in the driving for a Level 5 self-driving car. You are along for the ride.

If it is the case that while awake you are doing little about the driving, it would seem that you’ve already placed your trust in the abilities of the AI to drive the self-driving car. The step of then falling asleep does not seem like much of a logical leap. I realize it is still a bit chilling perhaps to be asleep and completely vulnerable, while if you are awake that at least you might be able to see that accident about to happen, but anyway, in theory, we will all gradually become accustomed to binge able to sleep while inside an in-motion AI self-driving car.

Here’s where the AI then comes to play in a manner more so than when the self-driving car is parked. Let me explain.

Suppose you have fallen asleep while the AI self-driving car is heading to your work. Maybe there is a snarl on the freeway and so the AI decides to take a different route, going to side streets. Normally, let’s assume that the AI would have let you know that the freeway is crowded, and it is intending to take an alternative route. If you were awake, you might carry on a dialogue with the AI via its NLP and either agree to the rerouting or insist to remain on the freeway. You might have good reasons to not go to the side streets.

Should the AI wake you up to let you know that it is desirous of rerouting the self-driving car? This seems like a rather simple question, I realize.

I am betting that some AI developers though have their own beliefs on this. Some AI developers would say that there is no need to awaken the human occupant and that the AI should just proceed as it deems necessary. If the human has chosen to fall asleep, they will have de facto given full control over to the AI. Meanwhile, there are some other AI developers that would contrarily insist that of course the AI should awaken the human occupants. It is the polite and proper thing to do. The AI needs to make sure that the human occupants are aware of what the AI is doing and that they have willingly and openly agreed to whatever the driving task is that is being performed by the AI.

There you have it, the usual on-and-off world or bits-and-bytes or 0-or-1 binary perspective that many computer-focused people have. It would be unlikely that those with such a mindset might consider asking the human occupants beforehand what they want to have happen once they fall asleep. This would require that the AI anticipate the sleeping aspect and be “programmed” accordingly. I’m sure that some would say that’s version 2.0, once enough people get upset that their AI either didn’t awaken them when it should have, or the AI did waken them and they are upset that it did so.

For the AI developer egocentric viewpoint, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/egocentric-design-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For my article about the self-driving car idealist mentality, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/idealism-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the burnout of AI developers, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/developer-burnout-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the concerns of AI groupthink, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/groupthink-dilemmas-for-developing-ai-self-driving-cars/

AI Detecting Who Is Sleeping

Speaking of waking up, the AI could serve as a kind of alarm clock too. You might not want to sleep the entire time during your commute to the office, and instead want a few minutes of waking up time before the AI self-driving car reaches the office. In that case, you might tell the AI to awaken you before arriving at the office.

You might even indicate that the AI should swing through a Starbucks just as it is going to be waking you, allowing you to drink some coffee as a means to further awaken before reaching work.

This brings up another aspect about the AI and sleeping human occupants.

Should the AI be clever enough to know who is asleep in the self-driving car?

Suppose you are in the AI self-driving car and have another adult with you and a child. The child falls asleep during the driving journey. The AI could potentially detect that the child has fallen asleep.

This might seem creepy, but keep in mind that it is likely that most AI self-driving cars will have cameras pointing to the interior of the self-driving car. For those that will be renting out their AI self-driving car for ridesharing purposes, they are bound to want to keep track of what people are doing inside of their self-driving car. You might say that if the ridesharing was being done by a human driver, the human driver would presumably be doing the same kind of watching and would likely realize when someone has fallen asleep in the car.

I would suggest that it will be feasible for the AI to potentially detect when someone is asleep inside the self-driving car. If it does have that kind of functionality, what would it do? One aspect might be to try and create an interior environment that is conducive to sleeping. This might include dimming any interior lighting, it might involve drawing down shades on the car windows, it might include turning off any music or making it quieter, it might involve adjusting the interior temperature, etc.

There is also the motion sickness aspect to be dealt with. If people are going to be routinely sleeping in their in-motion AI self-driving cars, our society is likely going to be experiencing a lot more motion sickness overall (due to the sheer volume of people henceforth sleeping in moving cars). The AI could try to minimize the chances of motion sickness. This might also include trying to keep the self-driving car from taking tight and fast turns or doing any kind of car jerking motions that would otherwise normally arise while driving the self-driving car.

Sleeping In Short Naps Versus Longer Sleeping

When I say the word “sleeping” you might be thinking of long sleep periods such as several hours of being asleep. That’s one way to sleep inside a self-driving car. You might also want to take so-called cat naps. Perhaps you are tired from your last appointment as a salesperson that uses your self-driving car to go from client to client. You want just a few minutes of rest before you get to your next client. You might tell the AI that you are going to shut your eyes and it should wake you up in about 10 minutes.

This brings up another facet of the AI and human occupant interactions. I mentioned earlier that the AI might be able to detect whether there are human occupants sleeping. Another aspect would be for the human occupant to tell the AI that they are intending to go to sleep. Hey, AI, you might say, I want to sleep for the next 20 minutes. You might also add that if anything unusual occurs, it should wake you up and not let you continue sleeping.

There are some that suggest we might even have the AI try to help lull you into sleep.

The AI might automatically go into the “sleeping human” mode and try to dim the lighting and modify the temperature and so on. Plus, it could perhaps play soothing music that is intended to help you get to sleep. Some might even say that the AI will be good enough that it could talk you into sleep, almost like a therapist might be able to do so. I admit that I did sometimes recite Dr. Seuss to my kids to get them to sleep inside the car, for which they were too young to understand the words, but I believe that the calm voice and reassuring tones helped them to get to sleep.

Suppose a human awakens and they are so groggy that they try to get out of the self-driving car, not realizing they are inside a moving self-driving car? Or, maybe the human is the kind of person that is prone to sleepwalking. They might unbuckle their seat belt and try to get out of the car, yet still be completely asleep. These kinds of “edge” cases or corner cases will need to be dealt with by the AI.

It could be that the AI might do some kind of wakefulness “test” to ensure that the human is fully awake and aware of their surroundings. Maybe the AI keeps the doors locked while the AI self-driving car is in motion and won’t unlock them, though this is somewhat 1984-like and we’ll need to decide as a society if that’s what we want to happen.

Suppose you put your small child into the AI self-driving car and do so to have the AI drive the child to pre-school. You aren’t going to travel with the child. There is no adult in the self-driving car. The child falls asleep on the way to the pre-school. The AI self-driving car arrives at the pre-school. The child is still asleep. What then?

The AI might have an alarm clock mode, as mentioned earlier. This could be activated on a timer basis or might be activated upon arrival at the destination. I know that some people are heavy sleepers and it takes quite a bit to awaken them. A former roommate was notorious for refusing to wake-up, even though he had an alarm clock that sounded as loud as Big Ben. I nearly built a contraption that would pour a bucket of water on his head if he did not awaken when the alarm clock sounded.

In any case, the AI could try speaking at the child to awaken them, hey kid, wake-up. Or, it could honk the horn, which you would think might be sufficient to wake someone up, though admittedly a well-built car often deadens exterior noises well enough that even a honking horn is not jarring while inside the car that has the honking horn.

For aspects about family trips inside AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/family-road-trip-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the conspicuity aspects of self-driving cars, see my article:  https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/conspicuity-self-driving-cars-overlooked-crucial-capability/

For when accidents happen to AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/accidents-happen-self-driving-cars/

For Machine Learning aspects, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ensemble-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

For safety aspects, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/safety-and-ai-self-driving-cars-world-safety-summit-on-autonomous-tech/

Via Machine Learning (ML), the AI might be able to discern patterns of human behavior regarding the use of the self-driving car. You tend to sleep in your self-driving car during your morning commute on Mondays and Thursdays, and thus the AI anticipates your chance of falling asleep during those days and times. You are the type of person that prefers to be awake when driving past an accident scene, and therefore the AI opts to wake-up in such instances, assuming that you are otherwise asleep. These kinds of patterns can be utilized to create a kind of “deep personalization” for you of the AI of your self-driving car.

Conclusion

For many of us, the notion that we would sleep like a baby while inside an in-motion AI self-driving car seems completely unreal and surreal. No way, most people might insist. They want to be awake and watch everything that the AI is doing. I admit I’m currently in that same camp. It is hard to imagine that we’ll perhaps one day have AI self-driving cars that we become so enamored of them that we gracefully and without hesitation fall asleep while inside one, doing so while it is driving on the freeway at 80 miles per hour. Hard to imagine!

Well, anyway, that’s what is supposed to eventually happen, namely we will sleep inside a moving AI self-driving car like a baby.

I hope it does happen.

We are working hard to try and make AI that will inspire that kind of confidence and trust.

In fact, I seem to be missing a lot of sleep trying to make this occur, but I suppose that someday I’ll be able to catch-up on lost sleep by merely sleeping in my trusted AI self-driving car. AI, please sooth me to sleep, will you?

Copyright 2019 Dr. Lance Eliot

This content is originally posted on AI Trends.

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