Are Self-Driving Cars Really Safe?: Report

The safety of autonomous driving vehicles is a hotly debated topic. While some say autonomous driving cars are the future there are still concerns over how safe it is to give the command of the car to computers and sensors.

According to Rand’s report, they calculated the number of miles that would need to be driven to provide clear statistical evidence of autonomous vehicle safety. The questions were simple.

Is it practical to test-drive these cars prior to releasing them on roads for consumer use?

How many miles would that take to determine their failure rate to precision and compare it to human driver failure?

Here are the answers.

Key Findings

  • Autonomous vehicles need to be driven billions of miles to demonstrate their reliability in terms of fatalities and injuries.
  • Existing fleets would take tens and sometimes hundreds of years to drive these miles – an impossible proposition if the aim is to demonstrate their performance prior to releasing them on the roads for consumer use.
  • At least for fatalities and injuries, test-driving alone cannot provide sufficient evidence for demonstrating autonomous vehicle safety.
  • Developers of this technology and third-party testers will need to develop innovative methods of demonstrating safety and reliability.
  • Even with these methods, it may not be possible to establish with certainty the safety of autonomous vehicles. Uncertainty will remain.
  • Apart from developing new testing methods, it is imperative to develop adaptive regulations that are designed from the outset to evolve with the technology so that society can better harness the benefits and manage the risks of these rapidly evolving and potentially transformative technologies.