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Volume 615 Issue 7953, 23 March 2023

Driving test

One of the main hurdles to putting autonomous cars on the road is how to ensure the reliability of the artificial intelligence that replaces the human driver. Evaluating the safety of an AI driver to the level of a human in a naturalistic environment would require testing across hundreds of millions of miles — something that is clearly impractical. In this week’s issue, Henry Liu and his colleagues tackle this problem by training an AI to help test the AI in the driving seat. The researchers used dense deep reinforcement learning to train the AI tester, which allowed the tester to ignore safe scenarios and instead build a testing environment that focused on potentially dangerous situations. The team then successfully tested a real car using augmented reality — while the autonomous vehicle drove round a track it had to cope with virtual dangers set by the tester. The researchers say the system can speed up safety evaluations by several orders of magnitude.

Cover image: Shuang Li

This Week

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News in Focus

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  • News & Views

  • Perspective

    • The current observations and understanding of black holes is reviewed, and the future of the field of black-hole astrophysics is discussed.

      • Ramesh Narayan
      • Eliot Quataert
  • Articles

    • Analysis of a supersoft X-ray source shows an accretion disk whose optical spectrum is completely dominated by helium, suggesting that it is a white dwarf binary accreting helium from a hydrogen-free donor star.

      • J. Greiner
      • C. Maitra
      • R. Vanderspek
      Article Open Access
    • Acceleration of ‘Oumuamua is due to the release of entrapped molecular hydrogen formed through energetic processing of an H2O-rich icy body, supporting the idea that it originated as a planetesimal relic similar to Solar System comets.

      • Jennifer B. Bergner
      • Darryl Z. Seligman
    • By analysing atomic-scale Pb–Pb Josephson junctions including magnetic atoms in a scanning tunnelling microscope, a new mechanism for diode behaviour is demonstrated, opening up new paths to tune their properties by means of single-atom manipulation.

      • Martina Trahms
      • Larissa Melischek
      • Katharina J. Franke
      Article Open Access
    • An unsymmetric, strong and confined chiral acid, a highly fluorinated imino-imidodiphosphate, catalyses the selective conversion of neral to (1R,6S)-trans-isopiperitenol, enabling sustainable routes to menthol and cannabinoids.

      • Joyce A. A. Grimm
      • Hui Zhou
      • Benjamin List
      Article Open Access
    • A small population of prostaglandin E2-responsive glossopharyngeal sensory neurons provides a sensory pathway between airway and brainstem that mediates sickness responses to early-phase influenza virus infection.

      • Na-Ryum Bin
      • Sara L. Prescott
      • Stephen D. Liberles
      Article Open Access
    • A study finds T cells in areas of tau, not amyloid, pathology in Alzheimer’s disease brain and mouse models, with their presence correlating with neuronal loss and their depletion, or that of microglia, preventing neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.

      • Xiaoying Chen
      • Maria Firulyova
      • David M. Holtzman
    • JNJ-1802—a highly potent dengue virus inhibitor—blocks the NS3–NS4B interaction within the viral replication complex, and is highly effective against viral infection with DENV-1 or DENV-2 in non-human primates.

      • Olivia Goethals
      • Suzanne J. F. Kaptein
      • Marnix Van Loock
      Article Open Access
    • Effective anti-PD-1 immunotherapy is associated with the presence of polyclonal CD8+ T cells in the tumour and blood specific for a limited number of immunodominant mutations, which are recurrently recognized over time.

      • Cristina Puig-Saus
      • Barbara Sennino
      • Antoni Ribas
    • A study describing an approach that combines imaging and profiling techniques to structurally and functionally analyse lung cancer in vivo, revealing heterogeneous mitochondrial networks and an association between bioenergetic phenotypes and mitochondrial organization and function.

      • Mingqi Han
      • Eric A. Bushong
      • David B. Shackelford
      Article Open Access
    • A study details the creation of an Escherichia coli genetically recoded organism that is resistant to viral infection, and describes a further modification that keeps the organism and its genetic information biocontained.

      • Akos Nyerges
      • Svenja Vinke
      • George M. Church
    • The authors report the cryo-EM structure of human A3G bound to HIV-1 Vif, and the hijacked cellular proteins that promote ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, suggesting how Vif antagonizes A3G by intercepting it to prevent viral restriction.

      • Yen-Li Li
      • Caroline A. Langley
      • John D. Gross
      Article Open Access
    • Biochemical and molecular dynamics studies show that the third intracellular loop of G protein-coupled receptors autoregulates the receptor activity and tunes the signalling specificity by controlling access to the G protein-binding site.

      • Fredrik Sadler
      • Ning Ma
      • Sivaraj Sivaramakrishnan
      Article Open Access
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