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Automated Driver-Assist Vehicles Remain Works in Progress

Despite the many technological advances in recent years, the human brain is still much better at certain calculations and assessments than the sensors and computers packed into cars with autonomous driving systems. The motor vehicle crash involving a Tesla Model S on a highway last year illustrates the point.

The Tesla was in its Autopilot mode when it failed to recognize that a police car and fire truck ahead were stopped on the roadway. So the Model S slammed into the back of the stationary truck, giving the human driver a warning of impending collision one half-second before the crash.

The good news in that crash is that there were no injuries. Of course, just because fortune smiled on the driver and emergency workers in the case does not mean everyone will be as lucky in a future similar event.

The chief research officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said the blind spots in the sensor-and-computer driving systems are “not unique to Tesla.” He said the problem in other driver-assist systems as well.

The problem is that the systems have an easier time tracking and analyzing moving vehicles ahead than they do with stationary vehicles.

Despite this serious shortcoming, the IIHS says driving assist systems not only have the potential to dramatically reduce motor vehicle crashes in the future, but are actually doing it right now. Automatic emergency braking features have reduced rear-end collisions in vehicles equipped with the systems in half. The driver assist systems could reduce police-reported crashes of all types by 20 percent, the organization estimates.

While these combinations of hardware and software have tremendous potential to make driving safer, they are clearly a work in progress.

Those who have been hurt in a motor vehicle crash caused by another driver can contact a Lake Charles attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.

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