DMV: Self-driving car accidents? Blame humans

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

self-driving car
Self-driving cars would certainly be convenient for getting to the drive-thru!

Last year, Google announced that its self-driving cars had completed 700,000 miles of accident-free driving in California and Nevada. Using distance-measuring lasers and 360-degrees of high-tech computer sensors, the impressive vehicles track hundreds of objects and can even predict the movements of bike riders. That’s why the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) cautiously approved rules to allow self-driving car testing on public roads! Now, DMV has reported that the handful of accidents involving self-driving cars not only resulted in no injuries, they were determined to be the other human driver’s fault.

Any manufacturers of autonomous (self-controlled) cars must apply for a testing permit, show proof that its drivers are certified to drive the futuristic vehicles, and have $5 million insurance coverage in case of accidents. Every year, the permit must be renewed again, otherwise it expires. While the vehicle drives itself around in public, the human operator must stay in the driver’s seat just in case of malfunction and carry an “Autonomous Vehicle Testing (AVT) Program Test Vehicle Operator Permit”.

These rules are still a ways off from letting massive amounts of robotic cars take to the streets, since only manufacturers can test them and very few people will have an ATV permit. However, it’s definitely one step closer to such a reality. Bryant Walker Smith from the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford, in an interview with Ars Technica, explained, “The DMV has a really, really difficult task, and I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of their approach.” He also pointed out that despite the fact self-driving cars will make life simpler, operating them properly requires more complex human understanding.

Images courtesy of Google.