Apple self-driving car in minor crash

The technology's struggle to respond to human error is delaying the development and adoption of autonomous vehicles

3Sep

An Apple self-driving car has been involved in a minor crash in which no people were hurt but both cars were left with moderate damage, California's road authority has confirmed.

The modified Lexus RX450h enabled with autonomous sensors was allegedly rear-ended by a human driver operating a Nissan Leaf.

"An Apple test vehicle in autonomous mode was rear-ended while preparing to merge onto Lawrence Expressway South from Kifer Road," the incident description read.

"The Apple test vehicle was travelling less than 1mph waiting for a safe gap to complete the merge when a 2016 Nissan Leaf contacted the Apple test vehicle at approximately 15mph.

"Both vehicles sustained damage and no injuries were reported by either party."

As California law states, Apple must provide the state's DMV with regular reports on the development of autonomous vehicles. Apple is yet to comment on the incident.


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While on this occasion the crash was relatively harmless to the people involved, self-driving cars being rear-ended has proven to be a recurring issue. A recent report by The information revealed that Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google, has had issues when interacting with human drivers or pedestrians not observing traffic laws.

"Waymo’s prototypes sometimes respond to these manoeuvres by stopping abruptly in ways that human drivers don’t anticipate," said The Information. "As a result, human drivers from time to time have rear-ended the Waymo vans."

The issues Waymo is facing during its development seem to be similar to those that caused the Apple Car's most recent crash.

Back in March, the first fatality due to a self-driving vehicle was widely-reported when an autonomous Uber car killed a woman crossing a street in Arizona after it allegedly flagged the detection of her figure crossing the street as a "false positive." Uber has subsequently suspended its self-driving operations.

While the incidents reported so far have been down to human error, the general public's concerns over the safety of autonomous cars is inevitably delaying the adoption and development of this technology.

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