Recent Tesla Crash Raising Safety Concerns Of Self-Driving Vehicles
The recent Tesla crash in Texas on April 17, 2021, killed two people after colliding into a tree and catching fire. According to the officials, nobody was in the driver’s seat. However, Tesla contradicts this statement saying that the driver was indeed on his seat during the crash. Likewise, data obtained from the car showed that autopilot assistance was not used during the crash.
Not the Only Recent Self-Driving Mishap
The recent Tesla crash is not the only self-driving mishap. In January 2016, the first known fatal crash involving a Tesla autopilot system occurred in Hubei in China. Likewise, in May 2016, the second fatal incident took place in Florida when a Model S on autopilot mode crashed with a tractor-trailer. Similarly, in March 2018, a Model X crashed into a roadside barrier in California and caught fire, killing the driver.
Other self-driving companies like Waymo and Uber are no strangers to these incidents. Waymo reports about 18 crashes during the whole of 2019 and the first nine months of 2020. However, none of these crashes was fatal and nobody was seriously hurt. Furthermore, nearly all incidents involved the negligence of the human driver or the pedestrians. Similarly, it also reports about 29 near collisions which forced the driver to take control of the car.
On the other hand, Uber was part of a fatal accident in March 2018 that killed Elaine Herzberg. However, it was found that the backup driver had been visually distracted watching an episode of The Voice.
Strained Relations with the Investigators
The recent Tesla crash also sheds some light on the strained relationships between Tesla and the investigators. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that Tesla is not a party to the investigation of the accident. The difficulty in their relations started when Tesla prematurely disclosed investigative information before its conclusion during the 2018 California crash.
Understanding the Nature of Self-Driving
Self-driving vehicles are a very complex piece of technology made up of multiple interconnected components. Likewise, they operate in a very complex setting consisting of a lot of static and moving objects. Furthermore, the maturity of this technology will only increase as the vehicles gain real-world experience.
Even though these intelligent vehicles are named self-driving, we cannot rely upon them entirely. Lack of this knowledge is a major reason for most of the mishaps and the blame game.
Instead, we must understand the different levels of vehicle automation and know where we sit at present.
The Society of Automotive Engineers defines six levels of automation. Level 0 refers to the state of no vehicle automation and requires full human control. On the other hand, Level 5 refers to full automation requiring no human control or attention. In the following section, we understand the various levels of automation and the roles of the vehicle and the human driver at each level.
In Level 0 automation, the vehicle is fully controlled by a human driver. This includes steering, accelerating, braking, and all other necessary controls. However, the vehicle assists the driver with features like collision warning, emergency braking, and blind-spot warning. Most of the vehicles that are on the roads today lie in this level of automation. However, automobile manufacturers are working on self-driving technologies but we are yet to see how far they will take it.
Level 1 automation is also referred to as Driver Assistance. In this case, the driver has to be attentive in his seat at all times. However, the vehicle features some advanced control over Level 0 automation. The most common example is adaptive cruise control. This feature keeps a safe distance from vehicles that are right in front of you.
Level 2, also known as Partial Driving Automation contains advanced automation features over Level 0 and Level 1. Advanced Driving Assistance Systems, or ADAS, can take over control of steering, acceleration, and braking. However, it is immature to sudden changes in its environment which means the driver must be attentive at all times and ready to take control. The recent Tesla crash sheds light on the abilities and inabilities of this level of automation. Likewise, it shows why drivers must be educated thoroughly about their responsibilities.
Level 3 automation is where things get interesting. It is a significant leap over the lower levels and drivers don’t need to supervise in normal conditions. The vehicle can make necessary decisions in normal weather conditions, speed, and road types. However, in case of emergencies, the driver must be able to take control immediately.
Level 4 is referred to as a high level of automation. In specific external conditions, the driver can hand over the entire control of the vehicle to the automation systems. Based on intelligent systems, it can take all the necessary decisions even in case of emergencies. However, since this technology matures with experience, it might not work in all types of external conditions like weather, road types, obstacles, etc.
Level 5 is the ultimate level of automation where you can just get inside your car and it will take you anywhere you want. You can take a nap or watch your favourite sitcom while the vehicle does all the driving and decision-making.
Making Self-Driving Successful
It is no doubt that self-driving cars will be a revolutionary technology in this century. Even though events like the recent Tesla crash raise concerns about safety, it is our duty to collaborate as much as we can to ensure its success. The following points must be taken into account by all stakeholders in order to facilitate a seamless self-driving future.
- Safety must be the first priority for everyone involved in this ecosystem. Therefore, companies with expertise in different technologies can collaborate to build the best possible systems.
- The maturity of self-driving vehicles will increase with data and experience. Therefore, information sharing between thousands of vehicles will become important.
- There must be close collaboration between regulators and developers so that critical technologies like this are transparent in every stage of development.
- Customers and users must carefully follow the guidelines stated by companies and regulators.
Recent Tech Trends with Top World Business
In this blog, we have learned about the recent Tesla crash and why a mix of automation and ignorance can lead to such mishaps. Likewise, we talked about some of the major accidents involving a self-driving car. Then, we came across the definitions of different levels of automation as described by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Finally, we concluded with a number of key considerations that all stakeholders must follow to ensure the success and survival of this exciting technology.
Top World Business is a one-stop place for all the technology news from every corner of the globe. Our aim is to keep you updated on recent and future tech trends so you can use them to your advantage. Contact us if you have any further queries.