Google has proposed to remove steering wheel, brakes or driver for its autonomous car. This is achievable if Google’s autonomous cars are able to handle the situations which occur and not catered for in their software. Currently, if there are scenarios occur and not catered for in an autonomous car’s software, the driver is able to take control of the car manually.
It is reported that Google drivers have taken over their self driving cars to avoid accidents on California’s roads 13 times from September 2015 to November 2015. However, with the report proven otherwise, Privacy project director, John Simpson, asked how Google could propose a car with no steering wheel, brakes or driver.
During 15 months of tests on California’s public roads, Google operated its car in autonomous mode for 424,331 miles or 682,895 km. Within this period, there were 272 cases whereby the cars detected malfunction in itself and alerted the driver to take control of it. There were additional 69 cases whereby the drivers took control of the car because they felt that the situations that they encountered could lead to potential accidents. 13 of the cases were supported by computer simulations and proved such that if the driver did not take over the car, there would have been a crash.
As a comparison, Tesla did not encounter situations whereby the driver needed to take control of its autonomous car. Nissan needed its drivers to intervene 106 times in 1485 miles of test in order not to be rear ended after braking too fast or crashing after braking too slow. Mercedes Benz needed its driver to take control of the cars at least 1051 times in 1739 miles which 59 of it was initiated by the drivers as they had been uncomfortable with the behaviour of the system.
Delphi reported that its drivers had intervened 405 times in 16662 miles which 28 of them is for precautionary as there were pedestrians and cyclists nearby them and 212 was because the car was having difficulties in identifying road markings or traffic lights. Volkswagen drivers had intervened 260 times in 14945 miles and Bosch drivers had intervened 625 times in 935 miles as planned tests.
John Krafcik, Google’s newly appointed president of self driving car project said that allowing humans to intervene could actually make a crash more likely. He also said that the car had to shoulder the whole burden at the Detroit Auto Show. However, he also said that Google’s plans would be influenced by car manufacturers as Google going to be partnering more and more and more.