The low crash estimates from new research underestimate the tech’s capabilities, say critics.
Automakers involved in developing and manufacturing self-driving cars have criticized recent insurance industry research measuring the autonomous vehicle risk of crashes. The study suggested that only about one third of crashes on American roads would be prevented if the cars were driving themselves.
The automakers argue that the study doesn’t take into account the full capability of the technology.
The research was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It involved an analysis of 5,000 crashes in the United States. Its conclusions were that the autonomous vehicle risk was better than that of human drivers only when driver perception error or incapacitation could be blamed for the crash.
Automakers involved in developing self-driving cars were quick to point out that its vehicles were programmed for the prevention of a much larger spectrum of possible causes of crashes. These included complex mistakes made by drivers whose evasive maneuvers were inadequate or incorrect.
Taking those added factors into consideration would greatly alter the automated vehicle risk of crashes.
According to Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, when taking programming for this complexity of crash avoidance into consideration, self-driving cars would be able to avoid 72 percent of the crashes in which human drivers are currently involved. That organization is a consortium of self-driving tech companies.
The IIHS study would indicate that self-driving cars would reduce the risk of crash by half of the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education’s estimates. The consortium posted that the IIHS study’s results were “fundamentally speculative” for determining the crash avoidance rates.
For many years, driverless car companies have touted the low automated vehicle risk of crashes. In fact, some automakers, such as General Motors Co, have gone so far as to say that this technology will play a central role in the achievement of “zero crashes” on American roads.
Auto industry group, Alliance for Automotive Innovation released a statement that pointed out that even if traffic fatalities were slashed by only a third, this would be a substantial reduction and something to make automakers proud. Still, it points out that its members were aiming for better.