Where do Self-Driving Cars Stand?

Gilberto Espana, Staff Writer

  Elon Musk, who is the Tesla CEO stated fully self-driving cars will be available by the end of 2019. Tesla has made many significant changes since the first self-driving fatal accident in 2016. The company has made improvements to the autopilot feature as the car can match the speed of traffic. You can also switch lanes without any driver input.

The first death caused by a self-driving car

The first death caused by a self-driving car occurred on May 7, 2016. Joshua Brown, who was a 40 year old from Ohio passed away after putting his Model S into Tesla autopilot mode. Once you switch to the autopilot mode, you are unable to control the car during highway driving. The sensors were unable to detect a large truck crossing the highway. The official police report said the top of the vehicle “was torn off by the force of the collision”.

Tesla has made many improvements to the autopilot camera. In past incidents, the camera has been unable to pick out lines during bright sunlight in the morning or at dusk. Tesla isn’t the only company trying to improve its business as General Motors has begun to test self-driving with Lyft. Tesla has planned to include the autopilot feature to the Model 3 which will cost $35,000 for middle-class drivers.

Failure to detect dark-skinned pedestrians

Drivers have another reason to question self-driving cars. According to a new study out of the Georgia Institute of Technology, “If you’re a person with dark skin, you may be more likely than your white friends to get hit by a self-driving car”. The vehicles have been programmed to detect pedestrians with lighter skin tones. To improve the models, researchers detected the presence of light-skinned pedestrians versus dark-skinned groups.

Elon Musk has improved the features in the self-driving cars. Musk stated, “The car will be able to find you in the parking lot, pick you up and take you all the way to your destination without any intervention, this year”. He also said “ My guess as to when we would think it is safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination? Probably towards the end of next year”.

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