Fouled Timestamps on Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Have Lessons for Autonomous Cars 

 Fouled Timestamps on Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Have Lessons for Autonomous Cars 

By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider 

Have you ever glanced at a snapshot and asked someone when they took that photo? I’m sure that you have. You wanted to place the picture into a context of date and time. Maybe the photo was snapped years ago and showcases the past. Or perhaps the picture is quite recent and displays the way things are today. All in all, knowing when a photo was taken can be useful and at times essential.   

In the computer field, we often refer to timestamping things.   

When a computer is hooked up to a camera, the taking of a picture is usually accompanied by adding a timestamp to the collected image. The timestamp merely indicates the date and time of the picture. This can be stuffed inside the data that contains the actual image or might be added as a supplemental piece of metadata that otherwise describes or indexes the photo. 

If a series of photos are being taken, the timestamp begins to be extremely important. 

Imagine that you own a car that has a camera mounted on the dashboard and is pointed at the roadway. You opt to go on a driving journey and decide to have the camera periodically take pictures of the road ahead. Picture after picture is being snapped. No big deal, easy-peasy.   

During the drive, you at one point are in a residential neighborhood and a dog wanders across the street. Fortunately, you see the dog and come to a stop to let it proceed safely. Shortly thereafter, a toddler runs across the street. Since you already had come to a halt, the child is able to dart through the street without incident. There was nothing especially untoward about the event, and you might chalk it up to just an everyday driving trek. 

A few weeks later you tell someone generally about the driving experience. As you begin to explain the travails, you suddenly cannot remember whether the dog appeared first and then the child came afterward, or possibly that the child was the first to come through the street and the dog was following the toddler. It would be easy to have muddled the relatively uneventful matter and particular sequence in your mind. 

Aha, you have those pictures stored in your dashboard camera!   

You download the pictures to your laptop. 

While pulling up each of the images, suppose that there wasn’t an apparent timestamp. This means that each picture was without any definitive indication of the date and time they were taken. You can plainly see each picture, and you can attest that they are accurate portrayals of what you saw during your driving effort. Unfortunately, they are lacking timestamps.   

It would almost be as though you scattered the pictures around on a tabletop and had to figure out which came before which other one. This can be a tricky puzzle to solve. 

Sure enough, you find the picture that shows


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