While self-driving on the busy and hectic streets of San Francisco, an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt gets involved in a minor accident with a motorcyclist. The Bolt was in the center lane on Oak Street a three one-way lane road past the intersection of Fillmore when this happened. The self-driving EV using its lasers and sensors system identified a space to merge with traffic in the left lane, however the system aborted the lane change due to a car ahead that was decelerating. As the Bolt was moving back into its original lane, a motorcyclist lane-splitting between vehicles moves into the center and right lanes gets hit by the Bolt and falls over.
GM attempted to put the blame on the motorcyclist for the mishap. According to a filing GM stated “the motorcyclist attempted to overtake and pass another vehicle on the right under conditions that did not permit movement in safety.” Also, the filing indicated that the Bolt was driving at 12mph, while the motorcycle was traveling at 17mph.
The motorcyclist is said to have walked away and seeked medical care for shoulder pain. Even after GM blames the motorcyclist, this accident opens questions about the role of the self-driving car itself. How was the self-driving car expected to avoid this collision and what did the on-board computers detect? A human driver in control of the wheel may have avoided this accident and maybe is more able to maneuver and apply the brakes more quickly.
Meanwhile, the California DMV has received about two dozens accident reports that involve GM’s autonomous vehicle. Google’s Waymo accounts for another three reports. However, most of Waymo’s testing for their self-driving cars are done in Phoenix, Arizona and there isn’t much information in regards to accidents there.
Autonomous cars still have a long way before becoming worthy and it still needs a person in the drivers seat to monitor the roads ahead.
Image credit: green car reports