There have been a number of recent traffic incidents involving cars apparently set in their self or automated driving modes.
As more people start using cars that are capable of driving themselves, the increase in incidents involving them, including fatalities, is bound to rise . Nonetheless, this technology was always heralded by its makers as being an innovation that would lead to safer roads.
In two separate events involving a Tesla Model S and GM's Chevy Bolt, the self-driving modes of the respective vehicles have been blamed by some for causing a traffic incident. The Tesla S was apparently set in its self-driving mode and traveling at approximately 65 mph when it ploughed right into the back of a big red fire truck owned by the Culver City Fire Department. The fire truck was tending to another accident on the road, and was completely stationary when it was crashed into by the Tesla. The driver of the Model S claims that the vehicle was in Autopilot mode when this happened. Thankfully, no one was injured.
Tesla did release an update to its self-driving mode recently that made the vehicle stop itself if it detected that the driver's hands were not on the wheel while the vehicle was moving. However, Tesla has not yet released the data gathered by this car's onboard computers, something that they have done in the past to show what might have happened in previous incidents. This event happened only a few days ago and is still under investigation. Tesla has released a statement saying that its Autopilot system is only to be used by a fully attentive driver.
In a separate incident, which actually took place in December of 2017 but has only come to light now, a motorcyclist claims that he was bumped into and then fell off of his motorbike as a Chevy Bolt veered into his lane and that the driver tried to grab the wheel and correct the vehicle, but was too late.
GM has come out in full support of its Cruise Automation technology in this incident, and alleges that the Chevy Bolt had been attempting to change lanes when the gap ahead had suddenly closed. As the vehicle attempted to readjust back into its original lane, GM claims that the motorcycle, traveling at a higher speed, had moved into the Chevy's way and subsequently bounced off of its side. The incident lead to the motorcyclist falling off and suffering some injuries.
If the self-driving systems are found to have failed somehow in these incidents, it will undoubtedly raise concerns amongst lawmakers as to how, or even if, they should allow more automated cars on the road. This would have major repercussions for all automated car projects in the future, but particularly for GM. The company plans on releasing a newer version of the Chevy Bolt next year, a model which won't even have any steering controls for a potential driver to intervene with at all.
Source: BBC News