Self driving cars are becoming closer to reality every day, and a recent study suggests that they crash less often than cars driven by humans.
By now, you have probably heard of a self-driving car. Automated vehicle technology has blasted off in recent years, and tech experts are saying that they will arrive on the world’s roads even sooner than expected. But one lingering worry has remained – are they really going to be safer than traditional cars?
According to a report from the Roanoke Times, a recent study commissioned by Google and carried out by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute suggests that automated vehicles are much less likely to crash than cars driven by humans. The study drew data from Google’s Self-Driving Car program and various studies that examined human drivers’ habits.
Lead author Myra Blanco, the director of VTTI’s Center for Automated Vehicle Systems wrote, “Current data suggest that self-driving cars may have low rates of more-severe crashes… when compared to national rates or to rates from naturalistic data sets.”
The study found that vehicles with human drivers were involved in 4.2 severe crashes per million miles, while driverless vehicles were involved in only 3.2 severe crashes per million miles.
While the researchers found statistically significant data that catastrophic accidents were less likely for self-driving vehicles, they stressed that further studies will need to be carried out in order to say for sure that driverless cars are safer.
One of the biggest issues with the study is that there are a large number of variables to control for when examining the safety of driverless cars. It can be extremely difficult to determine the exact cause of an accident involving human drivers, and driverless cars haven’t been implemented on a large enough scale to see if their impressive safety technologies hold up.
There will certainly need to be further studies to determine how safe driverless vehicles actually are, but engineers have made great strides in recent years. Researchers continue to move forward with the technology, however, whether we like it or not.
A press release from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute regarding the recent study can be found here.