LAS VEGAS, Nevada. Proponents of self-driving vehicles continue to claim that these cars have the power to reduce the number of people who die in car crashes in the U.S. According to Wired, car accidents lead to 40,000 deaths each year in the U.S. The recent self-driving car accident in Arizona, has critics once again scrutinizing the safety of these vehicles. Yet, the fact remains that self-driving cars are far less likely to make the same mistakes humans make. The question is: will the mistakes that machines make be more dangerous?
Initial investigations into the crash suggest that the accident might not have been preventable—either by a human or a machine. Accidents in which pedestrians suddenly step into the road can be tough to evade, even by the most attentive driver. Yet, investigators are concerned because initial reports indicate that the back-up driver inside the autonomous car may not have been paying attention to the road.
Autonomous vehicle developers still believe that the accident should not have happened. The cars are designed to “see” pedestrians or bikers who drift onto the road. The fact that the car didn’t slow down at all, or take evasive measures, is a concern.
Yet, until self-driving technology matures, researchers continue to see these cars make mistakes. Wired reports that more accidents are inevitable due to limitations of the technology. For example, laser systems designed to detect the world around the vehicle may not always function as designed at higher speeds. After all, the laser must leave the car, bounce off an object, and then return to the car in time. Objects perpendicular to a vehicle might be more difficult to detect. Human eyes just work better.
Another problem involves limitations in machine learning. Vehicles “learn” about the world as the data set increases, but we are still in the early days of assembling this data set. Some researchers are concerned that the self-driving car in the Arizona accident may have misinterpreted the pedestrian as an inanimate object.
Another possibility is that, as these vehicles encounter new and spontaneous scenarios, self-driving engineers might discover bugs in their code. A small coding error may not always be apparent until something goes wrong.
Autonomous vehicles currently use back up drivers to protect passengers and pedestrians should any of these systems fail. Unfortunately, when back up drivers let their guards down, accidents can happen. According to QZ, there are systems on the market that can potentially alert drivers and companies when drivers stop paying attention. This system was not in use when the self-driving vehicle collided with a pedestrian in Arizona. Some argue that this technology should be used in non-autonomous vehicles to keep drivers focused on the road.
As technology advances, we are likely to see more options than ever for safety. But with these new options, might come unforeseen risks. If you or a loved one gets hurt in a car accident in Las Vegas, Nevada, either due to the failure of autonomous technology or due to another person’s distracted driving, you may be entitled to seek damages for your lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The Truman Law Firm, P.C. are personal injury lawyers in Las Vegas who can help. Visit us at http://trumanlawfirm.com/ to learn more.
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