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Can smart cars still be susceptible to human error?

It’s no secret that several automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, Volvo along with Google are racing to develop self-driving vehicles (or at least extended autonomous features) in a push to eliminate some of the common accidents that occur because of human error. After all, a self-driving car ostensibly will not give in to road rage, will not drive while under the influence of alcohol, and will not disobey speed limits because the driver is late.

With all of these potential benefits that a computer could bring, there is still a concern that self-driving cars could be susceptible to human error. According to a recent report, there have been several accidents during the testing of such cars. 

For instance, a Volvo employee who was demonstrating a car that was supposed to detect pedestrians (and brake automatically) accidentally drove into a group of observers. The video footage of the accident made its way onto YouTube, and has been viewed more than four million times. Also, accidents have occurred with Google’s vehicle, essentially because the autonomous system did not take into account how human drivers sometimes “bend” traffic rules so that they could avoid accidents.

So while these dangers may delay the implementation of completely autonomous vehicles, it would not be surprising if features continue to be added as this technology is developed. For example, the number of vehicles with self-parking functions have increased, and smart cruise control functions are expected in near future models.

In the meantime, drivers must continue to use reasonable care while behind the wheel. 

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