By studying the brains of drivers when they were negotiating a race-track, the scientists were intrigued to find that during the most complex tasks, the experts used less brain power. They appeared to be acting on instinct and muscle memory rather than using judgement as a computer programme would.
“It looks as if the skilled race car drivers are able to control their cars with very little cognitive load,” said Prof Gerdes.
Mr Vodden agreed saying in difficult manouvres experience kicked in. "If you're thinking you're going too slow."
You'd think from that excerpt that the human driver remains superior, but it turns out the driverless car beat the track champion by 0.4 seconds on a track in Northern California.
One race track, the worlds' greatest driver (whoever is the Michael Schumacher of the moment) versus the best computer driver. I don't enjoy watching auto racing on TV, but I'd watch one that pits man and machine against machine and machine.
One more wrinkle for AI to learn: how and when to cheat.
In the race between Shelley and Mr Vodden, the racing driver left the track at a sharp corner, rejoining the race ahead of the robot car.
“What we’re doing as humans we’re weighting a number of different things,” added Prof Gerdes.
“We’re not driving within the lines, we’re balancing our desire to follow the law with other things such as our desire for mobility and safety.
“If we really want to get to the point where we can have a car that will drive as well as the very best drivers with the car control skills and also the judgment it seems to me that we really need to have a societal discussion about what are the different priorities we place on mobility and safety on judgement and following the law.”