Although self-driving cars could someday reduce injuries from car accidents and ease traffic jams, recent reports show that the technology still has a long way to go, and error-prone humans are still needed to take over in situations that the computer can’t handle.
Google, one of the leaders in the autonomous vehicle field, recently revealed that its self-driving prototypes experienced 272 failures with their autonomous technology that required human drivers to take the wheel between September 2014 and November 2015, according to an article on AutoBlog. There were an additional 69 instances in which the driver felt the need to take control, Google reported.
California, where much of the development work on self-driving cars is happening, required companies to report instances in which the autonomous technology “disengaged.” In total, the 11 companies that are testing self-driving cars in California reported 2,894 disengagements during testing on public roads, AutoBlog reported.
‘Here, You Take the Wheel’
The large number of disengagements may indicate that some proponents of self-driving cars are overly enthusiastic about the potential for fully autonomous vehicles in the near future. John Simpson with the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog expressed these concerns to AutoBlog. “Robot car advocates are putting a glitzy spin on their ‘autonomous’ technologies. The fact is that while some emerging technologies may promote safety, self-driving robot cars are not remotely ready for deployment on public highways.”
An article in the New York Times concluded that self-driving cars “will require human supervision. Significantly, on many occasions, the cars will in effect still tell their human drivers, ‘Here, you take the wheel,’ when they encounter complex driving situations or emergencies.”
An executive vice president for technology development at Renault-Nissan, an automaker that is working on autonomous technology, told the New York Times that it is “impossible” for self-driving cars to handle certain conditions like rainy or snowy weather and even some nighttime conditions.
Ways to Make Human Drivers Safer
What does this mean for motorists in Western North Carolina and South Carolina’s Upstate? Unfortunately, car accidents caused by human negligence will remain a serious safety hazard for the foreseeable future. Until technology develops to at point at which it can reduce or eliminate accidents, the best hope for cutting highway casualties must focus on safer driving by humans.
This includes avoiding unsafe habits behind the wheel, such as:
• Distracted driving
• Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
• Failure to obey traffic signs and signals
• Driving while too sleepy or fatigued
• Following too closely
• Aggressive or reckless driving
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another driver in North Carolina or South Carolina, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through a personal injury claim.
The issues with prototype self-driving cars also highlight the fact that automotive defects can also cause accidents or make injuries worse than they otherwise would have been. If flawed automotive technology played a role in your crash, you may be entitled to bring a defective product lawsuit against the manufacturer.
At Grimes Teich Anderson, LLP, we take pride in helping residents of Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina who are injured in traffic accidents. We explore all options for recovering compensation from every available source. We have helped residents in Asheville, Waynesville, Franklin, and surrounding areas of North Carolina, as well as Greenville, Spartanburg, and surrounding areas of South Carolina. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle crash, contact us now to discuss your case in a free consultation