Self-driving car ambitions too high?

Greater safety benefits with self-driving cars would be achieved faster if automakers focused on establishing trust and ensuring cooperation between man and machine, rather than the distant prospect of fully autonomous cars curtailing crashes, say the authors of a white paper on self-driving vehicle safety.

The vast majority of traffic crashes — 94 percent — are caused by human error and behavior, according to federal statistics. Self-driving vehicle proponents have used this as a rallying cry, arguing that traffic carnage will be dramatically reduced once humans are removed from their traditional driving roles and automated systems take control.

New research casts doubt on that ambition. Replacing humans with automated systems is more nuanced than it appears, and such a switch would not necessarily lead to a drop in deaths and injuries, according to the white paper published by Veoneer in December.