Two self-driving vehicles pertaining to two different companies almost collided on the Californian roads on Tuesday.
The rather minor incident sparked a lot of questions regarding the technology and the safety of self-driving vehicles. It’s been more than six year since automakers and tech companies took to the idea of developing automatic self-driving technology.
With Google in the lead and a cohort of tests performed by now, self-driving vehicles are taking to the streets more and more often. From private testing grounds to the public roads, the robotic prototypes are meant to bring a safer future for human transportation.
Thus, with the close call on Tuesday, the fear-mongering voices sparked a rather loud debate on the safety of self-driving vehicles.
The two self-driving cars involved in this tale of tech minor faults were Google’s Lexus SUV and Delphi Automotive’s Audi Q5. At the time of the near-collision in Palo Alto, Delphi Automotive’s self-driving vehicle also had the director of Delphi Silicon Valley Lab as a passenger.
On San Antonio Road, the Delphi Automotive’s self-driving Audi was cut off by Google’s self-driving Lexus SUV. Both Google and Delphi Automotive have previously reported a few accidents in which their self-driving vehicles were involved.
As it turns out, the reported accidents were all due to human error too. This is one argument to put the quire of fear-mongers at ease. Self-driving technology advancement is not a whim, but a must.
The director of the self-driving technology at Google, Chris Urmson has state that so far none of the accidents in which the company’s self-driving vehicles were involved were caused by these. Rather, there were other vehicles on the road, human-operated which rear-ended the Google self-driving cars.
Delphi Automotive mirrored the same argument. One of the Delphi Automotive self-driving vehicles was involved in an accident in October 2014 when another car in traffic broadsided it.
In the case of Google’s Lexus and Delphi Automotive’s Audi Q5, the technology on board looks similar. Laser, cameras, aided by radar and supported by complex computer systems are enabling the vehicles to self-drive.
Perhaps the self-driving vehicles are not fit to make decisions in major risk situations. Or rather not yet. That is why, for the time being the prototypes are also joined by human drivers who will intervene in the most perilous situations.
Despite reports of road incidence, Google is poised to drive by these concerns and aims to improve the technology so that in a few years the prototypes could go into mass production.
For now, the new Google fleet of self-driving vehicles are roaming on the streets of California looking swift. Resembling a koala or a Smart vehicle, they are two-seated pods that can only drive up to 25 miles per hour according to safety regulation permits.
Since May, California state released testing permits to seven companies developing self-driving technology.
Image Source: extremetech.com
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