A recent study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reveals that autonomous cars are less likely to crash than those driven by a motorist.
The study covered trips by Google’s fleet of 50 self-driving cars which had clocked over 1.3 million miles in both California and Texas in autonomous mode and was commissioned by Alphabet Inc’s Google unit. In the tests which were held over the last six years, there were 17 crashes, though according to Google, none of these were the fault of the self-driving cars. According to California law, all crashed in which autonomous vehicles are involved need to be reported to the police.
The normal rate of accidents for cars that are driven conventionally after adjusting for accidents that are not reported to police and are not severe is 4.2 crashes per million miles. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year had found that about 60 percent of property-damage-only crashes and 24 percent of all injury crashes are not reported to the police.
The figure of 4.2 crashes per million miles is relatively higher than the 3.2 crashes per million miles for self-driving cars in autonomous mode. The crash rates were higher for all levels of severity with regard to conventional cars.
Google spokesman Johnny Luu said the company asked Virginia Tech “to look into the topic given the interest and develop a robust methodology to be able to make meaningful comparison between regular cars on the road as well as our self-driving cars.” He added that the study will serve as a useful tool for direct comparisons in the future.
The results of this study contradict the findings of a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study which compared crash rates among Google, Delphi and Audi self-driving cars in 2013 and found that autonomous cars had a higher crash rate conventional cars.
One notable fact though is that when it comes to US roads the volume of driverless miles is only 1.2 million as compared to the 3 trillion miles driven conventionally on an annual basis in the US.
Last month, California had proposed state regulations requiring all autonomous vehicles driven on public roads in the state to be fitted with a steering wheel, throttle and brake pedals. A licensed driver should also be available in the vehicle as a fallback option if something went wrong with the vehicle.
Google had opposed this move stating that it would hamper the development of the full potential of autonomous driving technology as the vehicles cannot be used then by those who need mobility but are unable to drive.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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