Much more testing needed before autonomous vehicles prove safety

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2019 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Autonomous vehicle technology excites some people in Montana who hope to eliminate accidents caused by human error. Despite the theoretical benefits of the technology, developers of self-driving vehicles continue to face hurdles in regard to safety. A report from the Rand Corporation criticized technology companies for making promises about safety before completing extensive testing. To prove the technology’s safety, developers need to drive the vehicles millions and perhaps billions of miles before making statistical claims about accident rates.

Waymo, an autonomous vehicle developer, has completed 7 billion miles of tests in simulators on virtual roads. The Rand report, however, cautioned that physical test drives alone could predict safety in real-world driving conditions.

Currently, autonomous vehicles have not always succeeded in real-world conditions. In May 2016, a malfunction of the autopilot feature in a Tesla Model S killed the driver in a crash. The technology could not see a white truck against a bright sky and failed to apply the brakes. Another fatality occurred in March 2018 during a test by Uber Technologies that resulted in a car hitting and killing a pedestrian.

The safe operation of a vehicle represents a complex task that requires the continual focus of a driver. Accidents that result from carelessness, like speeding, distraction or intoxication, could leave people injured through no fault of their own. In this situation, a victim might wish to file a personal injury claim to recover money for medical bills, rehabilitation and lost wages. Because an insurance company might try to limit compensation, the representation of an attorney familiar with motor vehicle accidents may empower an accident victim. An attorney may provide honest answers about legal rights and organize evidence to improve the person’s position before negotiating with an insurer or taking a case to trial.

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