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How dangerous are self-driving cars?


When you were a child, you might have imagined a future in which vehicles drove themselves or there were flying cars. While we have yet to get that far, self-driving cars have now become a reality, although there are still many issues to work out until autonomous vehicles become commonplace. You and other Texans may wonder just how safe this brand-new technology is.

Autonomous driving technology works in the following ways, explains Tech Crunch:

  • The vehicle can scan 360 degrees around its environment by using cameras, radar and lidar (light detection and ranging) systems mounted around the body.
  • If one element of the system is down, the other parts should pick up the slack and detect obstacles.
  • The system can detect traffic signs, lane markings, surrounding traffic and moving and stationary objects.

This technology sounds nothing short of miraculous. However, it has not been without setbacks, as you may have heard. Recently, a woman in Tempe, Arizona, suffered fatal injuries when a self-driving Uber SUV going 40 miles per hour struck her as she crossed the street.

Officials are still unsure what part of the autonomous system failed, causing the vehicle to fail to detect the woman. It is possible the vehicle did not “see” her because of the late hour, but engineers say they designed the technology to detect objects regardless of the time of day. The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have joined with local agencies to investigate the cause of the accident. They will be looking through footage of the vehicle’s dash camera to find any factors that may have contributed to the system failure.

It appears more progress is necessary before self-driving technology can be fully trusted. If you suffer harm in an accident by an autonomous vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation.