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Learning about Driving with Big Data

August 23, 2012

This is nice, a year long safety pilot from the University of Michigan. Quite extensive, using 3,000 cars to gather data. I don’t know what they’ll get out of this, and if you read the comments, there’s all kinds of speculation, but it’s a good idea, in my opinion.

Many of the commenters are trying to come up with results before the data in this case. Do we need better driver training? Better design? Driverless cars? Who knows? We should get the data and then decide how to proceed.

This study is a good idea, because I think we realize there are some things about driving we don’t know enough about, but there are also a lot of things we don’t know we don’t know. The unknown unknowns are likely going to impact how we interpret this data later.

I like to see more studies along these lines, but with really anonymous data. Do some work to try and disconnect people from the data, which will be hard and likely not work well. Perhaps we just need to map the coordinates of the cars and their interactions to a neutral space, maybe some coordinate system that doesn’t necessarily correspond to lat/longitudes.

However there will be good data out of this that can help us understand how we might better change driving. I just wish this were with more than 3,000 cars. That seems like too few to me. I’d like to see more like 300,000 cars in a study.

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