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According to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and reported by Reuters, self-driving cars may help with the number of crashes in the US, but maybe not at the rates many people expected.
The study found that one-third were “the exclusive result of sensing and perception errors, or driver incapacitation,” while the other two-thirds made up a variety of errors that self-driving systems are currently not equipped to handle. These include wrong assumptions about other drivers’ behaviors, incorrect evasive maneuvers, and a variety of other issues.
Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research and a co-author of the study, notes that “[The] goal was to show that if you don’t deal with those issues, self-driving cars won’t deliver massive safety benefits.”
The study looked at more than 5,000 police-reported crashes and it should be noted that IIHS is a research group funded by US insurers.
Another group, Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, has come out to say that the study has issues, and that it incorrectly assumes what self-driving vehicles can accomplish, and that the technology used in self-driving vehicles can be used for more than just sensing and perception errors.
Their study states that nearly 72% of crashes could be avoidable, a stark contrast to the IIHS report.
While both of these studies bring up interesting points, it’s important to note that an automotive autonomous future will require a hard look at our current transportation infrastructure.