Google’s self-driving cars are designed and coded to be able to deal with the strangest traffic conditions. Unfortunately, Google just couldn’t think of everything, and now unexpected distraction is influencing how the self-driving cars react on the road. Most recently, bicycles have completely confused the computerized brain of Google’s self-driving cars. Here’s how?
Google’s self-driving cars are packed with cameras and sensors that pick up on sudden movements from all directions. Cyclists are not computers and therefore ride on roads exercising more human behavior. Frequently, when at stop lights, cyclists fail to place their feet on the ground and come to complete stops, which to the self-driving cars nearby appears to be moving traffic. Recently, in a biker’s forum, one cyclist reported that a self-driving car responded to his movements by making abrupt stops, not realizing that the biker was not actually going anywhere. The encountered resulted in the self-driving car not driving at all but reportedly remaining stopped at a green lit intersection for a full two minutes.
“The odd thing is, I felt safer dealing with a self-driving car than a human-operated one.”
The cyclists is not far off, as experts have already set the qualifications for a truly safe self-driving car. Recently, the KPMG consulting firm released an assessment on the safety of self-driving or autonomous cars and how it greatly surpasses that of human-operated vehicles. Reportedly, the assessment showed that a switch over to self-driving cars could reduce road accidents by 80 percent. This reduction also included a decrease in frequency, specifically, accidents would likely occur every 1.6 million instead 280,000 miles in which they occur today. These results, if the adoption of autonomous vehicles is implemented, could reach the predicted results by 2040. But there is much more in store when self-driving cars become the primary vehicles.
Based on the data in the assessment, owning a self-driving car could result in a 45 percent decrease in car insurance costs. The only factor that could potentially stand in the way of that is underwriting claims, in which you cannot blame an actual person for the accident. Despite this possibility, KPMG reports that at least 35 percent of auto makers plan to look into self-driving vehicles.
Following the Austin encounter, Google gave a surprising response. Goggle considers the forum which revealed a fault in the response patterns of its self-driving cars to be helpful based on a statement the tech giant gave to the Washington Post. The ordeal has inspired Google to do more research on the new areas it has dispatched its self-driving cars to, like Austin, TX and other places outside of its original Mountain View, California road testing terrain.
[Image via Getty Images/Credit: Justin Sullivan]