A new study by the University of Michigan has cast self-driving cars in a bad light — though, admittedly, the study doesn’t quite have the sample size of self-driving cars (and the accidents they are involved in) to have this study hold much meaning.
Researchers looked at self-driving cars and conventional cars to see how the accident rates of these two vehicles compared. Of course, there were only 11 accidents from self-driving cars that researchers could even look at, and that’s because there are only about 50 self-driving cars in California, where most of the self-driving car experiment is being performed. On the other side of the coin, there are roughly 269 million conventional cars, causing tens of thousands of accidents every month.
Even withe the disparity in sample size known, researchers said that they noticed an alarming car accident rate out of self-driving cars. It was five times higher than the conventional car accident rate. Even when researchers accounted for unreported accidents by conventional vehicles, the accident rate was still twice as high for self-driving cars.
Self-driving cars, by all accounts, will become a major part of our world in the coming decades. The laws are going to have to change, and we are going to have adjust our perception of “driving” as these decades come and go.
But in the meantime, there are legitimate safety concerns that self-driving automakers need to deal with right now; and they will have to address in the future as well.
Source: USA Today, “Study: Self-driving cars have higher accident rate,” Chris Woodyard, Oct. 31, 2015