Tech.co, a technology news website, has just analyzed records from California’s Department of Motor Vehicle to find out just how many self-driving cars have crashed in the state, and which company was operating them. According to lead Tech.co researcher Tom Fogden, “There’s no progress without pain,” and Californians are suffering that pain, especially in San Francisco, where driverless operations abound.
Humans have been attempting to build fully automated cars since the early 1900s, the first successful one being built in Japan in 1977. Universities, car companies, and even governments have tried their hand at developing these vehicles, often bringing about advances in software, sensors, and guidance systems. While fully driverless cars are not available to the public, partially autonomous ones are. The automakers claim that these vehicles can brake, parallel park, and alert the drivers of other cars when veering into other lanes.
However, the reality is not as smooth as designers and manufacturers might wish. With the cars being out on public roads and adjustments still being made, there have been numerous accidents, including some fatal ones.
According to Tech.co’s research, GM’s Cruise has had 52 accidents, the highest rate amongst the multiple self-driving car companies operating in California. Waymo, on the other hand, has had 36 crashes involving over 40 percent of its fleet. While companies like to attribute the accidents to human error; for example, to a human safety driver who dozed off at the wheel, the NHTSA has often found otherwise.
SELF-DRIVING CRASHES PER COMPANY
- APPLE: 3% of fleet has crashed, 2 crashes in total (Apple hasn’t been very open about its self-driving car tests, but it has reported two crashes, one in August and one in October)
- DRIVE.ai: 10% of fleet has crashed, 1 crash in total
- TOYOTA: 10% of fleet has crashed, 1 crash in total
- ZOOX: 20% of fleet has crashed, 5 crashes in total
- GENERAL MOTORS/CRUISE: 30% of fleet has crashed, 52 crashes in total
- GOOGLE/WAYMO: 41% of fleet has crashed, 36 crashes in total
Self-driving software is still not where it needs to be. The A.I. technology needed to navigate complicated intersections in car-dense areas still has to be developed. Traffic is worse than ever; highly populated areas are constantly attempting to fix the public transportation they do have, and to innovate better ways for people to mobilize within the cities. Self-driving cars may be one step closer to the future, but the race to beat competitors has had dangerous consequences.
John Uustal is a Fort Lauderdale trial lawyer with a national law practice focused on serious injuries resulting from dangerous and poorly designed products. His upcoming book Corporate Serial Killers focuses on companies that choose profits over safety.