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Study shows 'AI drivers' are worse than humans in these two driving conditions

Arvind · Jun 25, 2024 12:00 PM

Study shows 'AI drivers' are worse than humans in these two driving conditions 01

A recent study published in the Nature scientific journal suggests that while autonomous vehicles have become increasingly good at driving thanks to powerful software and sensors, however, there are certain scenarios in which humans still drive better.

The study, which analysed over 37,000 accidents involving autonomous (and ADAS-assisted) vehicles against human-driven vehicles, concluded that autonomous vehicles were generally less prone to accidents than those driven by humans, but they still significantly underperformed humans in specific situations.

The study found that SAE Level 4 vehicles were:

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  • 36% less likely to be involved in moderate injury accidents.
  • 90% less likely to be involved in fatal accidents.
  • Roughly 50% less likely to be in a rear-end collisions
  • Roughly 80% less likely to be to be in a ‘T-bone’ accident
  • Only have a 0.02% chance of running off the road.

Despite these impressive statistics, autonomous vehicles were about five times more likely to be involved in accidents at dawn and dusk (twilight) and nearly twice as likely to have accidents during turns compared to human-driven vehicles.

Also read: How Honda Sensing Elite achieved what Audi failed in L3 driverless car race

Study shows 'AI drivers' are worse than humans in these two driving conditions 01

The main reason for this is the performance visual sensors in autonomous vehicles struggle with lighting conditions in twilight conditions.

Dr. Shengxuan Ding, one of the study's authors, highlighted "Challenges remain under specific conditions, necessitating advanced algorithms and sensors and updates to infrastructure to effectively support autonomous vehicle technology."

Commenting on the study’s findings, J. Christian Gerdes, Co-Director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University, pointed out the difficulty autonomous vehicles face when turning through traffic. "That decision is based a lot on the actions of other road users around you, and you're going to make the choice based on what you predict."

“This complexity increases the uncertainty and risk of accidents for autonomous vehicles,” he added.

Thus, whilst ADAS systems or fully autonomous vehicles can be very effective on straight roads in clear weather, humans still significantly outperform autonomous technology in turns and poor lighting conditions.

Therefore, it may be wise to use assistance systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) only on selected portions of your journey – i.e.: on clearly marked highways in bright, clear weather  – before taking over control and being vigilant everywhere else.

Arvind

Senior Writer

Arvind can't remember a time when he didn't wheel around a HotWheels car. This love evolved into an interest in Tamiya and RC cars and finally the real deal 1:1 scale stuff. Passion finally lead to formal training in Mechanical Engineering. Instead of the bigger picture, he obsesses with the final drive ratio and spring rates of cars and spends the weekends wondering why a Perodua Myvi is so fast.

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