Self-driving cars a threat to cyclists, researchers say

Tesla self-driving

Tesla has created a billion-dollar industry with its self-driving cars which received a lot of rave reviews from all over the world. However, one research conducted by a robotics expert from Stanford University says the company’s auto-pilot technology poses danger to cyclists.

While the Tesla Model S electric car they tested is not self-driving, it does employ some of the systems that might later be used should the technology, which is currently being trialled across the world, be made legal.

Tesla currently claims that all its vehicles ‘have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.’

To do the test, the researchers drove around on the streets of Southern California and came up with the conclusion that although Tesla auto-pilot responded well to cars, it did not give the same love to cyclists leading them to advise never to put the car on auto-pilot around cyclists.

“I’m concerned that some will ignore its limitations and put biker lives at risk,” Heather Knight wrote. “Treating Autopilot as fully autonomous system might be reckless for a person in a car but fatal to a bicyclist, who has a lot less protection. Encouraging a balanced mental model of the machine is exactly the goal of this article.”

Putting Knight’s research aside, there has only been one reported incident of a cyclist getting injured when it came into contact with autopilot. The incident happened in Norway where the car failed to recognize the motorcycle.

In theory self driving cars are far more likely to avoid collisions with all road users, however the introduction of the technology has been the cause of widespread debate.


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