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Reducing human influence could improve driverless cars

While a number of issues related to self-driving technologies are debated in New York and across the United States, many hope that autonomous vehicle technology could help to cut down on car accidents and make the roadways safer. However, autonomous vehicles do not have an accident-free record; because of the nature of self-driving cars, crashes involving these vehicles tend to receive widespread publicity. When looking at how to improve the safety of autonomous cars, one professor notes that human influence itself could be responsible for autonomous vehicle accidents.

A professor of engineering at Arizona State University said that driverless vehicle technologies are being developed by companies like Uber and Google in order to replicate the human experience of driving. Therefore, the vehicles' programming is based on the same human knowledge that leads to car accidents in traditionally driven cars. The use of a human reference means the involvement of human fallibility as well.

Driving like a human can mean making certain assumptions that are not necessarily borne out by fact, he noted, commenting on a pedestrian death involving a driverless car in Arizona. While humans assume that if they see a clear road, they will not encounter an obstacle, current technology means that an autonomous vehicle could work the other way by assuming that an obstacle exists unless proven otherwise. However, this kind of approach is a clearly non-human view on driving that is designed for a computerized algorithm rather than a human brain.

Of course, most car accidents on the roadway are still attributable to traditional human problems like distracted or negligent drivers, potentially leading to catastrophic injuries with effects that can last throughout a person's life. People who have suffered injuries in a crash may be able to work with a personal injury attorney in order to seek compensation for the damages they have experienced, including medical bills and lost wages.

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