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High Profile Driverless Car Crashes

This article list crashes that involve driveless cars, i.e. a car that is not being driven by a human. BTW there is no such thing as a driveless car, the driver is either a human or a computer. Therefore, the term self-drive car is more appropriate. However, the term driverless car seems to be in common use. In some cars the driverless mode has to be engaged, for example Tesla's Autopilot mode. Thus, this article does not cover the many crashes that have occured in cars that support driveless mode but are driven by humans when crashes occur.

Car Crash

The data currently available suggests that driverless cars are now saver than human driven vehicles, though research is ongoing. Why? Some humans are bad at driving. Humans can be distracted, drive too fast and do not think through their actions. Humans also get ill, tired and can even fall asleep. Whereas computer drivers are not interested in looking at a mobile phone, they stick to the speed limits, calculate their actions billions of times per second and never tire. However, computers can get ill (breakdown) and can have bugs in their software, i.e. no driver, computer or human, will ever be perfect.

Date Maker Vehicle Cause Deaths
2018-03-23 Tesla Model X Collision with faulty crash barrier, see 1 1
2018-03-18 Volvo XC90 Collision with woman walking a cycle across a road, see 2 1
2018-01-22 Tesla Model S Collision with a stationary fire truck, see 3 0
2017-03-24 Volvo XC90 Human driven car hits and overturns autonomous Uber car 0
2016-05-07 Tesla Model S Collision with a tractor trailer at an intersection, see 4 1

Futher Information on Some of the Crashes

  1. Autopilot engaged, follow distance set to minimum, visual warnings and audible warning given, see the Tesla blog post.
  2. Autonomously driven Uber knocked over a woman wheeling a cycle across the road, the woman appeared out of the darkness without warning. The pedestrian died from her injuries.
  3. Autopilot engaged, vehicle speed 65 mph. It appears the Tesla was travelling behind a large pickup truck that swerved unexpectedly to avoid the fire truck. The driver did not respond to the situation.
  4. Autopilot engaged, the NHTSA Report did not find it at fault, the vehicle's cruise speed had been set to 74 mph.

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