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Future Tech: 

New Californian crash stats to stall the driverless dream?

Maybe don't get too comfy. Driverless cars aren't quite as infallible as we thought.

Maybe don’t get too comfy. Driverless cars aren’t quite as infallible as we thought.

It’s sometimes easy to forget that while technology has very high success rates, it is designed by humans who – to put it charitably – aren’t always 100 percent perfect. Don’t get us wrong: some of our best friends are humans, but as impressive as the driverless car is, it appears that the road accident will still be with us for some time. They are, afterall, designed by fallible humans.

California’s DMV has reported that there have been four accidents involving driverless vehicles in the state since September. Big deal, you may think – we imagine there have been more than that involving regular cars since you started reading this article – but the safety of the driverless car was supposed to be one of its big selling points. Along with us sleepy passengers being able to take a nap as we navigate from A to B.

The cars affected are said to include three Google-converted Lexus SUVs and a single Delphi Automotive vehicle. Google’s cars have traveled over 140,000 miles of Californian road, to date, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports ‘property-damage-only crashes’ at a rate of 0.3 accidents per 100,000 miles driven. So the self-driving cars have got some catching up to do.

Except, of those four accidents, only two of those had no human involvement, and all of them were at speeds of under 10 miles per hour, so relatively little harm done. But in an age where people are still a little bit creeped out at the idea of robots doing our jobs better than we do, any number above zero is too much for some.

Indeed a recent survey revealed that 33 percent of Americans won’t even consider a driverless car. And they can’t all be Uber drivers concerned about losing their new found source of income.

Still, all is not lost for the robo-car: over 50 percent of the ‘nopers’ were aged over the age of 69, with an additional 36 percent representing Generation X and the baby boomers. Given that driverless cars are still many years from becoming the norm, you can expect that number to drop even lower over time, leading to a overwhelming majority welcoming our new automotive overlords.

Providing they don’t get in many more scrapes, of course.

Yauhen_D /

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