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Science & Technology

How safe can a driverless car actually be ?

January 19, 2015 | Comment icon 27 comments



Google has made significant progress in developing driverless vehicles. Image Credit: Google / YouTube
Researchers have warned that driverless cars may never be safer on the road than a human driver.
The idea of sitting back and relaxing while your car drives itself along through the city streets might seem like something out of a science fiction movie, but as advances in driverless car technology push the practicality of such a concept ever further towards reality it may not be long before such a scenario becomes commonplace.

The biggest question on everyone's lips however is just how safe a self-driving car actually is - can you trust a computer to navigate the plethora of hazards that a human driver faces on a daily basis ?

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan, driverless cars will never be as safe as the best human drivers and even the most sophisticated of computers will never be able to anticipate or prevent every fatal accident.
Even if the car's ability to drive itself was perfect, technical faults with the vehicle or sudden road hazards could put the computer in a position where it would be impossible to avoid an accident.

"The expectation of zero fatalities with self-driving vehicles is not realistic," wrote study authors Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. "It is not a foregone conclusion that a self-driving vehicle would ever perform more safely than an experienced, middle-aged driver."

Nonetheless, it has been predicted that driverless car technology could still go a long way to reducing many of the 1.2 million people killed on roads across the planet each year.

Source: Telegraph | Comments (27)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by skookum 8 years ago
I think driverless cars will be very safe with all the safeguards etc. However like aircraft when the safeguards fail the consequences will be very bad. In the UK the Government seem desperate to have driverless lorry trains on the road at the soonest possible time. I mean what can go wrong with 4 or 5 lorries tailing each other on some of the busiest and hardest motorways in Europe?
Comment icon #19 Posted by acute 8 years ago
How useful would a manual override actually be? If an accident occurs, it will happen long before you get your hands on the wheel, put your foot on the brake, and/or get your brain into gear.
Comment icon #20 Posted by MissMelsWell 8 years ago
So, they are testing these Google driverless cars in my area, I was almost creamed by one in the town of Kirkland. Google has a VERY large complex in Kirkland which is about 4 miles from the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond. I was driving down a main arterial toward the freeway and a Google driverless car (which had a human passenger in the passenger seat) and the Google car totally cut me off came within inches of creaming my front left bumper. Me thinks they have some R&D to do still. The "passenger" didn't even notice I was there either. There was no one in the drivers seat, and as far... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by danielost 8 years ago
So, they are testing these Google driverless cars in my area, I was almost creamed by one in the town of Kirkland. Google has a VERY large complex in Kirkland which is about 4 miles from the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond. I was driving down a main arterial toward the freeway and a Google driverless car (which had a human passenger in the passenger seat) and the Google car totally cut me off came within inches of creaming my front left bumper. Me thinks they have some R&D to do still. The "passenger" didn't even notice I was there either. There was no one in the drivers seat, and as far... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by GreenmansGod 8 years ago
MissMelsWell, did you contact Google to tell them what happen. I am glad you didn't get wrecked. I bet there are some bugs to workout with it, but Google isn't going to tell anyone, they are hoping for some big bucks and I doubt they would let safety stand in the way.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Zero2Hero 8 years ago
Probably safer than this
Comment icon #24 Posted by Oxo1 8 years ago
Well I'm sure once driverless cars start to crash, or are stolen because of hacking attempts, we'll be back on the road to manually driven cars again unless their computers can be made cybersafe.
Comment icon #25 Posted by danielost 8 years ago
Well I'm sure once driverless cars start to crash, or are stolen because of hacking attempts, we'll be back on the road to manually driven cars again unless their computers can be made cybersafe. how can you hot wire a car that has no steering wheel. instead of having a key, you have a password.
Comment icon #26 Posted by TheDarkerSide 8 years ago
My son lives in one of the trial cities in the UK and he says he can't wait to try one. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30316458
Comment icon #27 Posted by Mantis914 8 years ago
how can you hot wire a car that has no steering wheel. instead of having a key, you have a password. I could see something like this happening, especially if Lizard Squad, Anonymous or any other hacker group blows a fuse and decide its fun to hack cars and watch them crash. I would think they have to have a manual override which I hope is voice activated otherwise you'll be typing in a password while headed toward a ditch or opposing traffic or a brick wall...


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