A handful of autonomous cars have been in accidents during test runs in California, posing a key question for the future of driverless vehicles: Are they actually any safer?If they've been in accidents- the obvious answer is they are NOT any safer.
I will highlight the spin Google is putting on this news, to downplay the accidents.
Driverless cars have been hailed as a technology with the potential to improve safety by removing human error from roads.Whoops!
Two accidents took place while the cars were driving, but for the other two, humans behind the wheel had control, according to the AP. Under California law, collision reports are private, so the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles didn’t give the AP more information.Two accidents took place while the cars were driving, two allegedly took place while humans behind the wheel had control. What kind of control? What level of control? We don't know because the reports are private and the DMV would not provide the specifics of the accidents- Therefore we can't know all the facts. Fact: 4 accidents took place not two
Four of the about 50 self-driving cars in California have been in accidents since September, the Associated Press reported Monday. Three of the four cars were Google’s Lexus SUVs. The fourth was a Delphi Automotive car.Four of the 50 self driving cars have been in accidents in less then one year- In fact 4 of the 50 cars have been in accidents in less then 9 months. How does this compare to stats on plain old cars driven by humans? No information. Why?
“The person familiar with the accident reports said the cars were in self-driving mode in two of the four accidents, all of which involved speeds of less than 10 mph,”The information above is included to downplay the accidents- 10 mph or just over 16 kilometres per hour can cause serious damage and harm- Let me put it this way to you- If you were run over by a car driving just 10 mph do you think you would escape injury completely? If a car hit you doing 16 kilometers per hour and your head hit the concrete or the glass of the car- do you really think you would be completely unharmed?
Low Speed Accidents cause serious injury12 kilometers an hour is slower then Google's cars were alleged to have been driving
In the research study, an anatomical model of the human spine was subjected to three different collision speeds: 8.4 km/hr, 10.7 km/hr and 12.8 km / hr. The displacement or movement at each vertebral segment was then calculated and analyzed.
The researchers found that as the speed of impact increases, the extent of the strain placed on the ligament increased. This is not surprising. But the interesting finding was that the maximum strain or displacement happened early in the aceleration - deceleration (whiplash) movement.
The authors report some observations that are relevant to those working in whiplash cases:
- The anterior longitudinal ligament was stretched close to the failure rate of the ligament, at collision speeds of just 12 kilometers per hour (which is roughly the speed of a fast walk).
Moving on with the Google cars being in accidents:
In the event that the crashes were due to human error, car makers are faced with the question of how much control to offer drivers-turned-passengers in autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars are expected to reduce peoples’ insurance costs, given that humans would likely be absolved of most responsibility for accidents. Those costs could shift to auto manufacturers.Do we really think auto makers are going to assume the insurance costs for their 'driverless' technology? I don't think so.
And finally, one last Google claim:
Google says its test cars have driven the equivalent of nearly 100 years of human driving.
Google can say whatever it wants. That doesn't make it so!