Should You Be Concerned about the Secrecy Surrounding Autonomous Vehicles?

April 27, 2018
On behalf of The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg Posted in Car Accident

Unless you are particularly young, driverless cars were probably the stuff of dreams while you were growing up. Sure, we all saw the movies, cartoons, and stories about robot housekeepers, personal spacecraft instead of cars, and similar futuristic technology that seemed far-fetched and unrealistic and, to be honest, driverless cars were probably considered to be equally unfeasible. Of course, in recent years, autonomous vehicles have become more likely to become reality, as several car manufacturers, most notably Tesla, began to design, manufacture, and test their own models. However, with recent events bringing the safety and reliability of these driverless vehicles into question, should you be concerned about the secrecy surrounding how this designing, manufacturing, and testing is really done?

According to documents and reports filed by the manufacturers in question, there is worryingly little training time offered to the human test drivers of these autonomous vehicles. The Department of Motor Vehicles in California, which is responsible for issue testing permits for driverless cars, has also revealed that many of the businesses involved are suspiciously unwilling to disclose details of their training programs. Another potential point for concern is the fact that Uber apparently spend more time training their drivers than the manufacturers of these futuristic vehicles to spend training their test drivers and teaching them how to safely manage the boredom and fatigue associated with sitting in a vehicle without having to actively take charge of the controls.

So, Just How Much Training Do These Human Test Drivers Get?

A public records request by the Financial Times enabled the newspaper to access details of the driverless car test drivers training records of several manufacturers, revealing the following figures:

  • Waymo, the firm with the longest history of producing autonomous vehicles, offers its basic operators between two and three weeks of training, much of which is completed using simulators
  • Zoox documents detailed almost 1 month of test driver training, including a 10-day module based on its driving system and 10 days behind the wheel
  • Aurora claims to have significantly increased driver training but offers few details beyond this. It is believed that the training, of which information is vague at best, lasts for around 12 weeks
  • Cruise runs a one-month driver training program
  • No timescales were made available by Tesla, Nvidia, and Apple, causing academics and safety experts to criticize their lack of transparency

Of course, the timescales cited in the various manufacturers’ documentation are possibly less important than what actually happens during the training process but, with so few details available, can we assume that training is adequate?

For now, our car crash attorneys would suggest that you refrain from giving too much thought to the matter, beyond considering it as an interesting topic that has been brought to light recently. It is likely that significantly more transparency will be required well in advance of driverless vehicles becoming commonplace.

Have You Been Injured in a Los Angeles Car Accident?

Switching back from driverless vehicles to the more mundane cars and trucks you drive on a daily basis, the regularity at which car accidents occur across the United States indicates that safety remains a concern, even so long after the technology was first introduced.

If you have been injured in a Los Angeles car accident, you could benefit from the expertise of an attorney from the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at 310-997-0904.


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