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Report on Self-Driving Cars: 'Sometimes the Vehicles Crash'

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The Sacramento Bee reports on the ongoing saga of self-driving cars (although it's not so much a saga, as a widely anticipated technological development). From a safety standpoint, it's hard to argue against a transportation system that will no longer have error-prone human beings behind the wheel.

But a self-driving car future is still a ways off. Jim Miller with the Sacramento Bee attributes two general factors on this:

· That sometimes the vehicles crash

· The autonomous tech disengages on its own from time to time

One of the first fatal crashes involving an autonomous vehicle

"Neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."

Looking back, you see that one of the first fatal crashes - perhaps the first in history with these particular types of vehicles - happened almost a year ago, in June 2016. It was a self-driving Tesla (Elon Musk's brand) and wasn't technically "ready" to be operated as a completely self-driving vehicle. (Most car companies touting autonomous technology these days warn that humans should not be relying entirely on self-driving features to get to Point A to Point B.)

As it happens, the human behind the wheel - as well as the computer - failed to see a big rig that had pulled out in front of the Tesla, resulting in the fatal collision.

California DMV keeps close tabs on self-driving cars

As Miller points out, the DMV keeps close tabs on self-driving cars. Fortunately, for enthusiasts and hopefuls, DMW data indicates that crashes and bugs with autonomous tech features (like disengagement) are only a "tiny fraction" of all time spent on the roads. In all likelihood, this "tiny fraction" pales in comparison to the fraction of crashes that occur from human errors.

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