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Human Drivers Pose a Threat to Self-Driving Cars

11.08.16 - Google Self-Driving Car

Now that some areas of the public roadways are open to self-driving vehicles we’re seeing these cars are able to navigate paths and detect dangers easily, but there’s still no solution for the human drivers out on the roads. In recent news, a Google self-driving car was hit in the side by a human driver that ran the red light and hit the Google car at about thirty mph. This may be a sign of what is to be the toughest challenge for the Google car and for autonomous vehicles for the near future.

The technology and automation used for the Google self-driving cars have become so advanced these cars now know it’s safer to drive a little above the posted speed limit than right at it or below it. These cars have also learned to honk at drivers who aren’t paying attention or are making poor decisions on the roadways. These technologies make the Google self-driving cars able to have driving manners that are more akin to what we’re used to for a smoother integration of autonomous technology onto our roadways. Unfortunately the recent crash of the Google car sent the test driver to the hospital to be checked out.

Because these Google self-driving cars aren’t approved for driving on all public roadways without a test driver behind the wheel, this is still a real possibility. It could have been a possibility even if the car had been equipped without a steering wheel or pedals. Thankfully, during this crash, no one was seriously hurt and even though the Google test driver had to be check out at the hospital before being released, there were no major injuries to report. This accident could have been much worse for both drivers, even though both vehicles were damaged in the crash.

The report of the accident shows the human driver of the Google car had taken over just before the crash but no report as to whether the crash could have been avoided. The software report show that during autonomous driving the car detected the other vehicle approaching and began to apply the brakes, but did not show that the car could stop in time to avoid the accident at all. This isn’t the first or only time in recent news that we’ve seen these self-driving cars being crashed into by human drivers which begs the question of what the problem on the roadways are.

The integration of self-driving cars and human drivers on the roadways will be part of the driving experience for many years, even after all vehicles are autonomous in nature. The number of crashes that have taken place over the past several months with drivers who run into the Google cars makes me wonder if the cars need to have collision avoidance choices programmed into them or if people just need to stop ogling the self-driving cars with the equipment on the top and just drive like they’re supposed to in order to avoid a disastrous collision.

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