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Monday, June 29, 2015

Autonomous Cars Displaying Road Rage? Let’s Hope Not


Self-Driving Lexus Google

Last week, engineers broke new ground in the realm of self-driving cars. No, it was not a new advance in software or sensors. Rather, two autonomous cars narrowly avoided becoming the first two such vehicles to display the very human act of cutting one another off.
It happened on June 23 in Silicon Valley — one of the few places with enough autonomous cars on the road for such a near-miss to take place. According to Reuters, a self-driving Lexus RX 400h made by Google and an autonomous Audi Q5 developed by Delphi were attempting to both merge into the same lane (likely from opposite sides). The Q5 sensed the RX 400h coming into that space and aborted its lane-change.

But then Delphi changed its story. While the initial reports of the incident came to light on Thursday, the tech company then released a followup statement that appears to contradict the initial claim. Delphi says the vehicles, “Didn’t even come close to each other.”

Autonomous car from Delphi drives on Treasure Island in preparation for a cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York City in San Francisco

The official who made this statement was in the vehicle when the incident took place, and went on to say, “It was a typical lane change maneuver. No vehicle was cut off and the vehicles didn’t even come close to each other.” This official said that while the vehicle was set to move into the other lane, its sensors acknowledged the presence of the Google car, and terminated the lane change.

This incident could arguably be chalked up as a win for self-driving cars. How many times have you been on a three-lane highway, and made a lane change from the left to the middle lane, just as another car made a move from the right lane to that same spot? Sometimes you don’t catch the other car until the very last minute. If these reports are to be believed, the self-driving tech has proven that it can avoid such incidents, even without a driver behind the wheel.