Google has created quite a buzz with the invention of their autonomous, or self-driving vehicles. It is an exciting advancement in driving that we have waited for and only thought would exist in the movies, but the prototype is here. Although it has only been created to work at low speeds in a controlled setting, which has been deemed successful, it begs the question, “Are autonomous vehicles safe?”
The University of Michigan Transportation Institute has done a study suggesting that autonomous vehicles will never be as safe as an experienced driver. They go on to say that middle aged, experienced drivers have years of experience that enable them to predict other driver’s behavior and adjust their driving accordingly. They also argue that if a drunk pedestrian stumbled into a roadway, that a human driver could stop more quickly for that pedestrian than a self driving vehicle.
They also believe that the transition period in which both autonomous vehicles and human drivers are both on the road may be very complicated, and actually cause more car accidents. They say that drivers today can make eye contact making other driver’s actions more predictable and getting feedback from other drivers on how to proceed.
On the other hand, Google claims that their studies show that an autonomous vehicle can in fact, outdrive any human on the roadway. Their study shows that their car is better at maintaining safe distances from other vehicles ahead of them. Google claims that their autonomous vehicle drives more smoothly and more safely than their trained professional drivers.
Google also believes that they can make traffic accidents a little easier for drivers. Their car will collect data from the accident and reveal who is at fault. They won’t need to rely on eyewitnesses and will have the hard data right from the autonomous vehicle. This can lessen legal issues between drivers.
The professionals have weighed in on both sides, but does Google have its own agenda in touting safety? To their credit, they did include competing models like Lexus and Toyota. Only the future will show what will become of autonomous vehicles and their safety on the road, but for now, human drivers will remain in control of their vehicle, at least for a few more years. Will you purchase an autonomous vehicle when they become available to the general population?