The main goal of self-driving cars, at least those promoted by proponents of the technology, is not to facilitate drivers or passengers, but to be one of the goals, even by-products, of these self-driving cars. After all, you can only sit back and relax your hands and eyes if you’re 200% sure that a self-driving car can safely drive itself through any road conditions or obstacles. However, our current self-driving technology can only prevent accidents caused by 34% of human drivers.
It should be noted that the study conducted by the Highway Damage Data Institute (IIHS-HLDI) of the American Highway Safety Insurance Association is not a direct study of autonomous driving technology. Instead, they looked at more than 5,000 police-reported crashes and classified the causes of accidents caused by driver-related factors. Comparing it with the capabilities of current autonomous driving technology leads to some rather depressing conclusions.
Of course, self-driving cars don’t have distractions, visibility, or even alcohol or drug-related obstacles. However, of the more than 5,000 incidents, these perceived and inadequate problems accounted for only 24 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. Self-driving vehicles, while they can easily avoid these problems, also require that they be 100% functional and error-free.
More problematic, however, are the other causes of these crashes. Forty per cent of these are due to decision-making errors, particularly those involving speeding or illegal turning, and the deliberate behaviour of these drivers has led to unfortunate consequences. There are also accidents with drivers mispredicting what pedestrians or other vehicles will do, as well as more mechanical performance problems such as overcompensation or incorrect avoidance.
Depending on the accident involving self-driving cars, the system still does not adequately address these errors. IIHS-HLDI concludes that self-driving cars are not enough to have the perception of perfection or even near perfection. They also need to be better drivers and better decision makers than humans to deliver the perfect autonomous driving experience.