Man sitting in a self-driving car.

What You Should Know About Self-Driving Cars

The evolution of autonomous vehicles has significantly progressed over the years. In fact, some of the newest models of cars have some form of automation. While these vehicles are aimed to reduce human error-caused crashes and make driving more accessible to others, there are also quite a few downsides to driving and owning one.

Our team here at Del Rio & Caraway, P.C. is here to provide more insight into the dangers of these vehicles companies won’t tell you about. We recommend reading this blog if you are an owner or plan on owning an autonomous vehicle.

Levels of Vehicle Automation

Did you know that there are levels of driving automation? Recently the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) created a classification system that defines the degree of automation a vehicle may offer. There are six levels of vehicle autonomy ranging from zero to five. From levels zero to two, the driver monitors their environment; however, in levels three to five, the automated system monitors the environment it’s driving in. Here’s a brief overview of those levels:

  • Level 0 - There are zero forms of automation in the vehicle, and all tasks must be completed manually.
  • Level 1 - There is driver assistance technology in the vehicle (ex., Cruise control).
  • Level 2 - There is partial automation meaning the vehicle can steer and accelerate on its own, but the driver must still monitor all tasks and can take control of the vehicle at any time.
  • Level 3 - There is some conditional automation where the vehicle can perform some driving tasks.
  • Level 4 - There is a high level of automation where the vehicle can perform all driving tasks but under certain circumstances. Human override is required.
  • Level 5 - The vehicle has full automation, and zero human interaction is required.

While it may seem like Tesla is at level four, they are actually considered at level two.

Recent Issues

Automated Brake Failure

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has revealed that they received over 300 complaints in the past year coming from Tesla owners claiming their vehicle has slammed on its brakes unexpectedly while in autopilot. Also referred to as “phantom braking,” these incidents have pushed the NHTSA to launch an investigation into Tesla, which may affect over 416,000 models.

Teslas are designed with an emergency braking system that uses sensors to stop the car from abruptly approaching an object or vehicle. However, it’s become more known that these vehicles are confusing objects on the road or shadows as obstacles.

Failure to Detect Pedestrians

In a study done in 2019 by researchers from Georgia Tech, it was found that autonomous vehicles showed “uniformly poorer performance” when detecting pedestrians with darker skin tones. The detection was around five percent less accurate at detecting pedestrians with darker skin in comparison to pedestrians with lighter skin.

Also, in recent news, a California CEO released a video criticizing Tesla’s self-driving system as it is seen that the car failed to detect a child-sized mannequin. Dan O’Dowd, the CEO of Geen Hills Software, is currently advocating for Congress to put a pause on Tesla’s self-driving program.

More Research Needs to be Done

While self-driving technology has made great advancements in the past few years, it’s still safe to say it needs more work. According to researchers, it’s expected that by 2025 around 8 million autonomous or semi-autonomous cars will be on the road. In the meantime, it’s essential to be vigilant while on the road when driving near self-driving cars.

If you ever find yourself in an accident with a self-driving vehicle, our car accident attorneys at Del Rio & Caraway, P.C. can assist you with your claim. We have extensive experience handling different types of car crashes, and we know what to do to build a strong case and get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today at (916) 229-6755 or visit our website to get started on a consultation request form.