Cooley On Cars
Smarter Driver: How safe are self-driving cars?Are self-driving cars safer than human-driven vehicles? Brian Cooley discusses new research that shows what we've learned so far about the safety of autonomous vehicles.
[MUSIC] 33,000 people died in 2014 in U.S. road accidents. Another 26,000 in the EU. Vast numbers unequaled in rate by any other means of transportation. [SOUND] So the main selling point for self driving cars early on has been dramatic reduction in accidents. However, in their first million or so miles of real world testing on public roads, they've yet to stake a claim to that hope. [MUSIC] A new study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute look at the data from the early self-drivers fielded by Google, Audi. And DELPHI. The inconvenient truth? These early self-drivers' have a higher accident rate than their human-driven counterparts. [MUSIC] Here are three more nuanced take aways, however, for the smarter driver. First of all, the accidents of self-driving cars' are involved in tend to be minor. And lets face it, we've gotta get over this sci-fi ideal that self-riding cars will never crash. And embrace the reality that they will crash less often and with less severity. Secondly, the self-driving car accidents so far, have not been the self-driving cars fault. It's been the other guy, the human. My job. [MUSIC] That will change, of course, if these cars propagate into the real world market and the hands of non trained professionals who aren't official company testers. And thirdly, the miles driven so far by self driven cars are under optimal conditions. The current state of cars that rely on sensors around the vehicle to see and read every situation Really can't hack it in heavy snow or hail or even a wicked thunderstorm. [SOUND] Sivak and Schoettle at University of Michigan also point out there are probably some awkward teenage years ahead when the earliest commercial self-driving cars will be basically surrounded and outnumbered by human-driven cars. They, with their hard [UNKNOWN] We, with our fuzzy logic, is gonna make for some unpredictable results. Bottom lines is we get these early indications of the efficacy of self-driving cars for reducing accidents. It pays to double check the reality of what the goal is. Complete accident reduction or merely a dramatic improvement in fatalities at least in some situations. More realities of modern driving revealed now at CNETOnCars.com. Click on smarter driver. [MUSIC]