The driverless car that’s set to make headlines in 2017 could be one of the most powerful inventions in history, but a new study says the problem is widespread.
The Oxford University team has identified over 1,000 vehicles, which it says have either broken down or had some kind of mechanical issue, as well as the potential for hundreds more to become damaged in a matter of days.
According to the researchers, the biggest problems are in self-driving cars, which typically take about 30 minutes to go from zero to 100 miles per hour.
The study found that between 2,000 and 3,000 self-drive vehicles each year are broken down.
The problem is worse in trucks, which can take as long as 90 minutes to reach 100 miles an hour.
“What we’re seeing is that the vehicles are breaking down in a lot of different ways, from the way the brakes are engaged to how the suspension is engaged to what the traction system is doing,” study co-author and Oxford University professor Peter Harms said.
“We think this is probably due to a number of factors, including the amount of fuel that’s being consumed, to the fact that they’re not used to the driving conditions, or because they’re being trained.”
He added: “So when they’re in a car for a long time, and they get stressed, they lose their ability to respond in a way that the vehicle would normally.”
Professor Harms says the new study was inspired by the recent death of a British cyclist who was involved in a self-inflicted car crash.
“In a self inflicted crash, there is an injury to the vehicle, and there’s also the impact to the human body, which could result in the death of the driver,” he said.
“The car is also quite fragile, and in a collision it can break down, so the driver can’t react.”
While there’s not yet a proven cause for the problem, Professor Harms suggested the cars could be more susceptible to the stress of being involved in accidents, which he said could be contributing to a rise in self inflicted injuries.
He also warned the problem could grow even larger as vehicles become more autonomous.
“The key is that as the self-made car goes on, as we move to self-serve, then it becomes more of a burden, and the driverless cars will be a much more important part of the world than they were before,” he explained.
“So we’re talking about huge problems, and we’re going to see huge numbers of people die.”
The study was published in the journal Transportation Research Part A. More: Self-driving car crashes are up by 40 per cent in the past five years, and that number is predicted to rise to nearly 500,000 by 2040.
It’s expected to be the world’s most dangerous car, with the death toll estimated to reach 5,000 per year.
(ABC News: Tom Dolan)Topics:accidents,automotive,science-and-technology,safety-education,research,safety,world-politics,cyber-terrorism,worldwide-events,united-kingdom