Self-Driving and Driver-Assist Technology Linked to Hundreds of Car Crashes

Over a 10-month period, nearly 400 car crashes in the United States involved state-of-the-art driver-assistance technologies, the federal government’s top auto-safety regulator revealed Wednesday in the first-ever release of large-scale data about these growing systems.

Six people were killed and five were seriously injured in 392 incidents listed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between July 1 and May 15 last year. Teslas working with autopilot, more ambitious full self-driving mode or any of its component features were in 273 crashes.

The ads are part of a wider effort by the federal agency to determine the safety of advanced driving systems as they become increasingly commonplace. In addition to the future appeal of self-driving cars, a number of car manufacturers have rolled out automatic components in recent years, including features that allow you to remove your hand from the steering wheel in certain situations and help you park parallel.

In Wednesday’s release, NHTSA revealed that Honda vehicles were involved in 90 incidents and Subaras in 10 incidents. Ford Motor, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and Porsche all reported five or fewer.

“These technologies have great promise for improving safety, but we need to understand how these vehicles are performing in real-world situations,” said Steven Cliff, the agency’s administrator. “This will help our investigators quickly identify potential defect trends.”

Speaking to reporters before Wednesday’s release, Dr. Cliff also warned against drawing conclusions from the data collected so far, noting that it does not take into account factors such as the number of cars of each manufacturer that is on the road and is equipped with such technologies.

“The data could raise more questions than they answer,” he said.

About 830,000 Tesla cars in the United States are equipped with autopilot or other driver-assist technology from the company – offering an explanation of why Tesla vehicles are responsible for about 70 percent of reported crashes.

Ford, GM, BMW and others have similar advanced systems that allow hands-free driving on the highway under certain conditions, but very few models are sold. However, these companies have sold millions of cars in the last two decades equipped with individual components of a driver-assist system. Components include so-called lane keeping, which helps drivers stay in their lanes, and adaptive cruise control, which keeps the car moving and brakes automatically when traffic slows down.

Dr. Cliff said NHTSA will continue to collect data on crashes involving such features and technologies, noting that the agency will use them as guidelines for designing and creating rules or requirements on how to design and use them.

The data was collected under an NHTSA mandate issued a year ago that required automakers to report crashes involving cars equipped with state-of-the-art driver-assist systems, also known as ADAS or Level-2 automated driving systems.

The order was partly due to crashes and casualties over the past six years involving Teslas operating in the autopilot. Last week the NHTSA expanded its investigation into whether the autopilot had technical and design flaws that posed a safety risk. The agency is investigating 35 crashes that occurred while the autopilot was active, including nine that have killed 14 people since 2014. It also opened a preliminary investigation into 16 incidents in which Teslas collided with emergency vehicles under autopilot control. Turned off and their lights kept flashing.

Under an order issued last year, NHTSA also collected data on crashes or incidents involving fully automated vehicles that are still under development but are being tested on public roads. Manufacturers of these vehicles include tech companies such as GM, Ford and other traditional automakers, as well as Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company.

Such vehicles were involved in 130 incidents, the NHTSA found. Resulting in one serious injury, 15 minor or moderate injuries, and 108 no injuries. Many crashes involving automotive vehicles cause fender benders or bumper tops because they are driven primarily at low speeds and in city driving.

Vemo, which operates a fleet of driverless taxis in Arizona, was part of 62 incidents. GM’s cruise division, which has begun offering driverless taxi rides in San Francisco, was among the 23rd. Pony.AE, a minor accident involving an automated test vehicle built by a start-up, resulted in the company’s recall of three tests. Vehicles for updating software.

The NHTSA mandate was an unusually bold move by the regulator, which has come under discussion in recent years for not being more assertive with automakers.

J. Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University. In this area, the agency is gathering information to determine whether these systems pose an unreasonable threat to security, Christian Gerdes said.

An advanced driver-assistance system can automatically drive, brake and accelerate vehicles, although drivers must be alert and ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Safety experts are concerned because the system allows drivers to leave active control of the car and can calm them down thinking they are driving their own car. When technology fails or can’t handle a particular situation, drivers may not be ready to take control quickly.

The NHTSA mandate required companies to provide data on crashes when advanced driver-assistance systems and automated technologies are used within 30 seconds of impact. Although these data provide a more comprehensive picture of the behavior of these systems than ever before, it is difficult to determine whether they reduce crashes or otherwise improve safety.

The agency did not collect data that would allow researchers to easily determine whether using these systems is safer than shutting them down in similar situations.

“Question: What is the baseline against which we are comparing this data?” Dr. Gerdes, a Stanford professor who was the first Chief Innovation Officer for the Department of Transportation from 2016 to 2017, of which NHTSA is a part.

But some experts say comparing these systems to human driving should not be the goal.

“When a Boeing 737 falls from the sky, we don’t ask, ‘Is it falling from the sky more or less than other planes?'” Said Bryant Walker Smith, an associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina. Engineering schools that specialize in emerging transportation technologies.

“The crashes on our roads are the equivalent of several plane crashes every week,” he added. “It simply came to our notice then. If there is a crash these driving systems are contributing – a crash that would not have happened otherwise – it is a potentially fixable problem that we need to be aware of. “

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