A key question about autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is whether an AV software driver can match the capabilities of human drivers — and if so, when will this happen?
The vast majority of human drivers are quite good — especially when they are focused on the driving tasks and have multiple years of driving experience. However, most drivers are not fully concentrating on the driving tasks part of the time. Or young drivers have not yet reached the skill levels to hand difficult driving events. And older drivers eventually lose some of their driving proficiency.
The result is an unacceptable level of car crashes across the world. Total road deaths per year has topped 1.35M according to United Nation statistics. U.S. road deaths have ranged between 35,000 and 40,000 in the last five years.
Another sobering data point is the total cost of all vehicle crashes in the U.S. The last detailed study by U.S. Department of Transportation was done for 2010 and released in a 2015 report. This report showed total crash costs in 2010 reached $242 billion, or 1.6% of GDP, or $784 per person. When quality-of-life valuations or total societal harm costs are included, total crash cost was $836 billion or equivalent to 5.5% of GDP. Societal harm costs include quality of life valuations from loss of life and severe injuries. The details of the cost calculations are documented in the linked report.
A major reason for developing autonomous vehicles is to lower the cost and impact of car crashes. Human driving errors are by far the leading cause of car crashes and accounts for over 90% of total crashes. The big question is whether the best AV software driver can lower the crash rate compared to human drivers — and if this happens — how long will it take?
This column will give some perspectives on how AV software drivers stack up against human drivers. The next table lists key driving issues and compares how AV software drivers measure up versus human drivers. Most of the issues relate to known problems that most drivers struggle with part of the time. A few AV software driver issues are also included.
It is important to remember that there is a large difference in driving skills among human drivers. There is also a large difference in how far the AV software driver development has come. I will use Waymo data when numbers are needed or estimating future trends.
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Article By : Egil Juliussen A key question about autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is whether an AV software driver can match the capabilities of human drivers - and if so, when will this happen? We know that developing a safe AV software driver is extremely challenging.