Autonomous cars are not ready for public deployment

Despite the hype surrounding self-driving cars, human intervention is consistently required for its functionality, according to Consumer Watchdog.

The future of autonomous driving technology From self-driving cars that take us through our daily commute to automated trucks that deliver our packages, Bill Detwiler shares latest Tech Pro Research findings of a 2018 Autonomous Transportation report.

Required reports by the California Department of Motor Vehicles from companies testing out autonomous vehicles on California's public roads show major deficiencies in self-driving automobile functionality, according to calculations by Consumer Watchdog. These autonomous vehicles, on average, require one human takeover for every 14 miles tested, the report found.

In total, 28 companies--including Uber, Apple, Toyota, Waymo, and GM Cruise--racked up over 2 million miles of testing, and more than 145,402 disengagements, the report said. Most of the disengagements were due to the inability of autonomous cars to handle unpredictable situations that human drivers deal with on a daily basis, the report added.

SEE: Autonomous vehicles and the enterprise (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Factors including reckless driving by other drivers, incorrect behavior predictions of other drivers, failure to detect an object accurately, and adverse weather conditions all caused a human driver to take control of the autonomous vehicle, the report found.

Along with necessary human intervention, California's state reports revealed an increase in crashes involving self-driving cars. Companies reported 75 collisions to the DMV in 2018, according to Consumer Watchdog

"These reports show that robot cars aren't close to being ready for public deployment," said Adam Scow, senior advocate for Consumer Watchdog, in a press release. "While some companies are improving, others are sputtering out in the parking lot."

The hype surrounding autonomous vehicles has dominated the past few years. More than 50% of US cities are hoping to host self-driving cars, according to a National League of Cities report. Despite the excitement, the report's findings show a different reality. Companies must use caution when overhyping new technology, both externally and internally, on IT projects.

California is the only state that requires robot car companies to publicly report disengagement and crash reports, the report said, which means nobody really knows how dangerous autonomous cars actually are.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • In California, autonomous cars required human intervention every 14 miles of testing. -- Consumer Watchdog, 2019
  • Major autonomous vehicle companies in California reached a total of 2 million miles of testing, and more than 145,402 disengagements in 2018. -- Consumer Watchdog, 2019

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