Recently released accident reports by the state of California's Department of Motor Vehicles show humans did a lot of dumb things to cause accidents with General Motors' (GM) Cruise Automation driverless vehicles in San Francisco this year.
As a counter example to human folly, videos Cruise published of its self-drive cars in driving conditions like those in the DMV-vehicle reported accidents show just how much smarter — and arguably safer — self-drive vehicles have become.
Among other things, the DMV data shows that human drivers were at fault in every reported incident involving Cruise vehicles when they were in autonomous drive mode this year in San Francisco. The accident reports also serve as a good list of silly things humans so often do when driving:
- a car clipped the side of a Cruise vehicle while passing it when the self-drive car slowed down at a stop sign;
- a van rammed a Cruise vehicle from behind as it was starting to move forward just after a stoplight turned green;
- as a Cruise vehicle slowed down when a bus moved into the lane in front of it, a van ran into it from behind as it braked;
- a cyclist ran into the back of a Cruise vehicle after it began braking when another vehicle cut in front of it;
- a Ford F-250 side swiped a Cruise vehicle damaging a sensor on the front of the vehicle as it attempted to merge into the lane in front of the Cruise vehicle;
- a Mercedes ML350 rammed into the back of a Cruise vehicle as it began moving forward just after a stoplight turned green.
Conversely, in a series of videos Cruise has released on its Youtube channel this year, we see Cruise cars, probably GM Chevrolet Bolts, successfully self-driving and navigating the streets of San Francisco in similar driving situations like the ones involved in the accident reports.
In the video below posted after most of the accidents described above occurred, you see evidence of how a Cruise car — as well as successfully engineered driverless cars in general — are able to successfully navigate often driving complex situations. (The video was also taken at night, which does not adversely affect LiDAR's sensing capabilities). At 7:45 in this Cruise video, for example, we see the Cruise car slowing down to avoid a collision as a human driver does something very dumb, i.e. make an illegal u-turn:
While the video serves as anecdotal evidence (it just shows a few minutes of driving compared to millions of hours required to do an accurate statistical analysis),the video also shows how always-on sensors and neural networks are not designed to make careless and all-too-human driving mistakes.
The video, among other things, demonstrates how self-drive cars will never cause accidents by texting while driving, being impatient, and making other careless mistakes when driving that cause most traffic accident-related injuries and deaths ever year. The DMV stats involving collisions with Cruise vehicles, meanwhile, shows just how dumb human drivers are.