New research in the US claims most crashes were caused by mistakes that self-driving systems are not equipped to handle better than human drivers. Picture: REUTERS
New research in the US claims most crashes were caused by mistakes that self-driving systems are not equipped to handle better than human drivers. Picture: REUTERS

It’s long been touted that self-driving cars could eliminate the majority of road deaths, but a new US study says they could likely only prevent a third of all road crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a research group financed by US insurers, found the remaining crashes were caused by mistakes that self-driving systems are not equipped to handle any better than human drivers.

Not all human mistakes can be eliminated by camera, radar and other sensor-based technology, according to the IIHS analysis of more than 5,000 representative police-reported crashes in the US.

One-third of all crashes were the exclusive result of sensing and perception errors, or driver incapacitation, the study found.

Most crashes were due to more complex errors, such as making wrong assumptions about other road users' actions, driving too fast or too slow for road conditions, or making incorrect evasive manoeuvres. Many crashes resulted from multiple mistakes.

“Our goal was to show that if you don't deal with those issues, self-driving cars won't deliver massive safety benefits,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice-president for research and a co-author of the study.

In response, partners for Automated Vehicle Education, a consortium of self-driving companies and researchers, said the study wrongly assumed that automated cars could only prevent crashes caused by perception errors and incapacitation.

About 72% of crashes were avoidable, based on the study's calculations, if accidents caused by speeding and violation of traffic laws were included, the consortium said.

Traffic experts say roughly nine in 10 crashes result from human error and more than 36,000 people are estimated to have died in US car crashes last year.

Self-driving vehicle developers, including traditional car makers and technology companies, have repeatedly positioned fully automated driving as a tool to drastically reduce road deaths.

— Reuters

 

LE MANS 24 HOUR TO RACE ONLINE THIS WEEKEND

The Le Mans 24 Hour has been postponed to September 19/20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but a virtual version will take place this weekend on the race’s originally scheduled date.

With the postponement of this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hour, an online race will be staged in its place. Picture: SUPPLIED
With the postponement of this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hour, an online race will be staged in its place. Picture: SUPPLIED

The esports event on  June 13-14 has a 50-car field featuring five Formula One drivers, including Red Bull's Max Verstappen and McLaren's Lando Norris, as well as double Le Mans winner and twice F1 world champion Fernando Alonso.

The line-up includes the Toyota Gazoo Racing works team, winner of the last two Le Mans 24 Hours, which is fielding two cars.

Other regular WEC (World Endurance Championship) competitors Rebellion, Aston Martin and Porsche will also take part.

The action will be streamed live across social media and streaming platforms.

 

ALL-FEMALE W SERIES CANCELS 2020 SEASON DUE TO PANDEMIC

Motor racing's all-female W Series has cancelled its 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic but said it will return next year with at least two support races on the Formula One calendar.

The all-female W Series has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus. Picture: REUTERS
The all-female W Series has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus. Picture: REUTERS

The series, which started last year, had been due to award points towards a F1 superlicence for the first time.

The cancellation will be a setback for Britain's inaugural champion Jamie Chadwick, who had hoped to defend her title and move a step closer to F1.

SA’s Tasmin Pepper was also set to start her second season in the series after finishing 10th last year.

W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said 2021 would include support races for Formula One at the US and Mexican Grands Prix, as was planned this year.

W Series was due to support the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) in Europe but the coronavirus has hit that series, with a limited run of races in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands now scheduled.

The original plan had been for the W Series, which has drivers from 12 countries, to race in Russia, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands before hooking up with Formula One in the Americas.

 

FORD SA LAUNCHES SELF-SERVICE ‘ASK FORD’ TOOL

Ask Ford is a new artificial intelligence tool that has been launched on www.ford.co.za which will answer a wide variety of questions from the brand’s customers.

New ‘Ask Ford’ online system answers customer queries using AI. Picture: SUPPLIED
New ‘Ask Ford’ online system answers customer queries using AI. Picture: SUPPLIED

Clicking on the magnifying glass on the landing page gets you access to the blue oval’s global online knowledge base. It uses AI to search for the best response within Ford's knowledge repository, owner’s manuals (going back to 2004) or Ford websites, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ford says the system uses AI to search for the best responses, beyond the reaches of standard search engines.

It uses natural language processing instead of just keywords, allowing a user to be specific when asking a question, such as: "How do I use active park assist?"

Ask Ford also supports the brand’s dealers and Customer Relationship Centre to obtain up-to-date information related to customer queries.