How Self-Driving Vehicles Endanger Pedestrians: Part I

Self-driving vehicles are poised to take over our roads in the near future. While preliminary research suggests that they will reduce accidents by removing human error from the equation, they remain far from perfect. Pedestrians, in particular, could be at risk as these vehicles become more prevalent. Below, we examine the many ways in which self-driving cars can prove dangerous:

Poor Detection

Detection issues often lie at the heart of self-driving accidents. Autonomous vehicles simply cannot respond appropriately to pedestrians if they are not detected quickly enough. Unfortunately, detection issues abound.

Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that self-driving technology especially struggles to identify pedestrians with dark skin. This discrepancy may arise from the relative lack of dark-skinned individuals used in testing and training.

Failure to Predict Pedestrian Behavior

Even if self-driving vehicles manage to detect pedestrians, they may struggle to predict how those on two feet will react in any given situation. Until recently, self-driving efforts have largely focused on still images, rather than capturing how people move within three dimensions. A variety of factors can impact how pedestrians move, including age, injuries, or use of cell phones while walking. These and other factors must be taken into account to ensure that self-driving systems accurately predict pedestrian movements — and respond appropriately.

While ongoing research and technological developments promise to continue improving the accuracy of self-driving systems, some skeptics believe that autonomous cars will never match human intelligence when it comes to predicting seemingly erratic pedestrian behavior. Regardless of whether you take an optimistic or more cynical position on self-driving technology, it’s important to be aware of the unique risks modern pedestrians face.

No matter the role self-driving vehicles played in your accident, you can benefit from the strategic support of a skilled personal injury attorney. Contact Regan Zambri Long PLLC at your earliest convenience to learn more about your legal options.