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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

AV developers are using their test vehicles to collect data on the interactions between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, but that data is currently specific to West Coast cities like San Francisco.

The big picture: The cultural norms of driving vary widely from one region to the next. To operate safely and be deployed widely, AVs will need to draw on global data sets that are locally customized and continuously updated to account for both changing behaviors and new modes of transportation, like electric scooters.

Jaywalking is one example of these regional differences:

What's needed: Massive amounts of vehicle data have to be processed in real-time for vehicle path planning — without cloud connectivity — to ensure AVs perform safely and smoothly. At the same time, AVs also act as probes, capturing anomalous road behaviors that are then identified and processed through cloud-enabled feedback loops.

  • Once an anomalous situation is detected, it is flagged and transferred wirelessly to the cloud for offline processing, including tuning of the machine learning models used on the vehicles.
  • These tuned models are transferred back to AVs via ongoing system updates, ensuring they continue to improve over time.

The bottom line: Though it might be a while until self-driving cars have spread across the world, technology developers that master scalable solutions for these regional differences will pull ahead of the competition and make for a smoother transition of AVs onto human-dominated roads.

Sid Misra is the CEO and co-founder of Perceptive Automata.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.