Is It Safer To Use Autonomous Vehicles Instead Of Human Drivers?

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  • Only 3.4% of collisions could be attributed to the poor performance
  • Waymo has recorded 424,000 miles of autonomous testing

For the last few years, autonomous vehicles have been attracting massive popularity from all over the world.  There are some cities like Arizona and San Francisco where autonomous cars are starting to become a reality.

While autonomous vehicles have gained popularity worldwide, safety is the first thing that comes into every person’s mind.

From January 2019 to May 2023, California submitted more than 450 collision reports. These reports include many collision types, from collisions with other vehicles to hitting curbs and even vehicles attacked by pedestrians.

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Only 3.4% of collisions could be attributed to the poor performance of the autonomous system. Another way to look at it is that in 2022, the autonomous driver would cause collisions at 1 collision per 1.3 million miles, significantly better than human drivers.

A report by IDTechEx revealed that Waymo, an American autonomous driving technology company, has recorded 424,000 miles of autonomous testing, during which its safety drivers disengaged the system 341 times, meaning there was an average of approximately 1,200 miles between disengagements. Waymo were the best company by this metric that year.

The report also estimates that human drivers in the US average approximately 200,000 miles between collisions. If it is assumed that each of Waymo’s disengagements would lead to a collision, which is slightly unfair against the autonomous driver, then it would be around 0.5% as safe as a human driver.

Since 2020, California has allowed driverless autonomous testing on its streets; two companies have taken advantage of this. Waymo and Cruise. Between 2021 and 2022, Waymo has recorded just under 70,000 miles of driverless activity. On the other hand, Cruise only started recording driverless miles in 2022 but submitted a staggering 590,000 miles. During those miles, the vehicles involved 15 collisions, i.e., 1 collision every ~40,000 miles, or 5 times more often than their human counterparts.

The data showcases the ongoing evolution of autonomous technology and its potential to revolutionise transportation safety in the future. However, it is essential to continue rigorous testing, research, and regulatory efforts to make autonomous vehicles safer than human drivers.

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Nitisha Dubey
Nitisha Dubey
Nitisha Dubey is a journalist at EFY. She focuses on startups and innovations with a deep interest in new technologies and business models.

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