Over the course of 10 months, nearly 400 car crashes in the United States involved advanced driver assistance technologies, the federal government’s largest auto safety regulator revealed Wednesday, in its first-ever release of widespread data on these burgeoning systems.
In 392 accidents cataloged by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from July 1 last year to May 15, six people were killed and five seriously injured. Teslas has been working with autopilot, the more ambitious full autonomous driving mode or any of its associated component features in 273 accidents.
The detections are part of a sweeping effort by the federal agency to determine the safety of advanced driving systems as they are becoming increasingly common. In addition to the futuristic appeal of self-driving cars, dozens of car manufacturers have rolled out automated components in recent years, including features that allow you to take your hands off the wheel under certain conditions and that help you stand parallel.
In a statement Wednesday, the NHTSA revealed that Honda vehicles were involved in 90 accidents and Subarus in 10. Ford Motor Company, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and Porsche each reported five or fewer.
“These technologies hold great promise for improving safety, but we need to understand how these vehicles perform in real-world situations,” said agency director Stephen Cliff. “This will help our investigators quickly identify potential fault trends that emerge.”
Speaking with reporters prior to his release on Wednesday, Dr. Cliff also cautioned against drawing conclusions from the data collected so far, noting that it does not take into account factors such as the number of cars from each factory on the road that are equipped with these types. of techniques.
“The data may raise more questions than they answer,” he said.
About 830,000 Tesla cars in the US are equipped with the company’s autopilot or other driver assistance technologies — providing one explanation for why Tesla cars accounted for nearly 70 percent of reported crashes.
Ford, GM, BMW and others have similar advanced systems that allow hands-free driving under certain highway conditions, but far fewer of these models have been sold. However, these companies have sold millions of cars over the past two decades that are equipped with individual components for driver assistance systems. Components include so-called lane-keeping, which helps drivers stay in their lanes, and adaptive cruise control, which automatically maintains vehicle speed and brakes when traffic ahead slows.
Dr. Cliff said the NHTSA will continue to collect data about incidents involving these types of features and technologies, noting that the agency will use them as a guide in establishing any rules or requirements for how they are designed and used.
The data was collected under an order issued by the NHTSA a year ago that requires auto manufacturers to report accidents in cars equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, also known as ADAS or Level 2 automated driving systems.
The order was issued in part due to accidents and fatalities over the past six years that have involved Teslas operating on autopilot. last week NHTSA Expanded Investigation To see if the autopilot has technological and design flaws that pose safety risks. The agency was investigating 35 accidents that occurred while the autopilot was on, including nine that killed 14 people since 2014. It also opened a preliminary investigation into 16 accidents in which Teslas under autopilot control crashed into emergency vehicles that stopped and turned on their lights.
Under the order issued last year, the NHTSA also collected accident or accident data involving fully automated vehicles that are mostly still in development but are being tested on public roads. Manufacturers of these vehicles include General Motors, Ford and other traditional automakers as well as technology companies such as Waymo, which is owned by parent Google.
The NHTSA found that these types of vehicles were involved in 130 incidents. One resulted in serious injury, 15 minor or moderate injuries, and 108 injuries resulting in no injuries. Many accidents involving motorized vehicles have led to flexing of the fenders or bumper taps as they operate mainly at low speeds and in city driving.
Waymo, which operates a fleet of self-driving taxis in Arizona, was part of 62 accidents. GM’s cruise division, which is just beginning to offer driverless taxi rides in San Francisco, has been involved in 23 accidents. A minor accident involving an automated test vehicle made by Pony.ai, a startup company, resulted in three of the company’s tests recalling software debugging vehicles.
NHTSA’s order was an unusually bold move for the regulator, which has been criticized in recent years for not being more assertive with automakers.
“The agency is collecting information in order to determine whether, in the field, these systems pose an unreasonable safety risk,” said J. Christian Gerdes, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University.
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An advanced driver assistance system can steer, brake and accelerate vehicles on their own, although drivers must remain alert and ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.
Safety experts are concerned that these systems allow drivers to relinquish active vehicle control and can make them think their cars are driving themselves. When technology breaks or can’t handle a particular situation, drivers may be unwilling to take over quickly.
The NHTSA request required companies to provide data on accidents when advanced driver assistance systems and automated technologies were in use within 30 seconds of an impact. Although this data provides a broader picture of the behavior of these systems than ever before, it is still difficult to determine whether they reduce accidents or otherwise improve safety.
The agency has not collected data that would allow researchers to determine whether it is safer to use these systems than to turn them off in the same situations.
“Question: What is the baseline against which we compare this data?” Gerdis, a professor at Stanford University who from 2016 to 2017 was the first responsible chief of innovation for the Department of Transportation, of which the NHTSA is a part.
But some experts say comparing these systems to human leadership should not be the goal.
“When a Boeing 737 falls from the sky, we don’t ask, ‘Does it fall more or less from the sky than other aircraft?'” said Bryant Walker Smith, associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina. Engineering colleges specializing in emerging transportation technologies.
“Accidents on our roads equate to as many aircraft accidents every week,” he added. Comparison is not necessarily what we want. If there are malfunctions that these drive systems contribute to – accidents that would not otherwise occur – this is a fixable problem that we need to know about.”