Assisted and autonomous driving - Tesla, Waymo and the others: from the USA the first accident report of Case and tech company

Nhtsa, the American transport safety agency, has published for the first time two reports on accidents involving vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (level 2 and 3 of the Sae ranking) or of autonomous driving (from 4 to 5, actually only implemented on prototypes). In the first case, Tesla vehicles have been involved in the largest number of accidents: the episodes involving the Elon Musk house are 273, approximately 70% of the 392 reported since June last year. In the second case, however, the “primacy” belongs to Waymo. We recall the series cars currently marketed are equipped with level 2 systems, while the 3 is a very recent equipment, recently authorized in some countries (for example in Germany, in the case of Mercedes).

The work of the Nhtsa. A year ago, the federal agency issued a specific order to require manufacturers or technology companies to report any incidents. Since then, various data have been collected, which have been used for the drafting of two specific reports. As mentioned, the first stops at level 2 of the Sae scale and therefore concerns, for example, theAutopilot of Tesla, and the second levels from 2 to 5, which mainly involve robotaxis or the Full Self Driving of the Elon Musk House, now in beta test phase. The data is important because it provided the American authorities with immediate information on accidents involving vehicles with automation levels activated at least 30 seconds before the accident. At the moment, the NHTSA has made it clear that the information is not yet complete and exhaustive, but the feds plan to collect more and more data with the aim of identifying any significant risks or trends and increasing its understanding of the performance of technologies for autonomous driving in real driving conditions.

The first report. Although they are, as mentioned, incomplete, the data still allow us to take a first look at what happens on American roads in the event of accidents with new generation vehicles. For example, the level 2 ADAS report shows serious injuries or deaths in 11 of the 98 incidents for which specific information was reported. Furthermore, at least 116 collisions occurred with another vehicle and at least 4 involved a pedestrian (3) or a cyclist (1). In addition, 125 claims affected the streets of California, Tesla’s main market. The Musk company leads the ranking of claims, with a large gap on the second, Honda (90 reports), and third, Subaru (10). Ford (5), Toyota (4), BMW (3) and General Motors (2) follow. Behind them, with a single signal, are placed Aptiv, Hyundai, Lucid, Porsche and Volkswagen.

The second report. The ranking elaborated in the second report on autonomous driving systems is quite different, where mostly technological companies are active, often not linked to large manufacturers and currently active above all in experimentation or testing robotaxi services. In this case, 130 incidents were reported: only one resulted in serious injuries, while for 108 there was no type of damage. Collisions with other vehicles involved 108 accidents and those with “vulnerable road users” 11 (7 cyclists, 2 motorcyclists, 2 pedestrians). Here, too, California is the state most affected, with 90 casualties: after all, the Golden State was among the first to authorize the start of road testing of robot vehicles. The ranking of the most involved operators is headed by Waymo, a company born from a branch of the Californian Google, with 62 claims; followed by Transdev, with 34, Cruise (GM group) with 23, General Motors with 16, Zoox with 12, Argo AI (joint venture between Ford and Volkswagen) with 10. Tesla is stopped at a signal, like Apple, Stellantis, Hyundai, Porsche and Bosch.

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