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Apple reports its first self-driving car crash

A DMV filing says Apple's autonomous car was rear-ended while merging into traffic.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
September 1, 2018
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Apple has been keeping most of its self-driving car plans and progress under wraps, but every once in a while, we get a small peek at what the tech giant has been doing. It has revealed in a DMV filing, for instance, that one of its autonomous vehicles was recently involved in a crash in the Bay Area -- and it was caused by human error. According to the document, an Apple test vehicle driving in autonomous mode on August 24th (2:58PM) was rear-ended by a 2016 Nissan Leaf. It happened while the test vehicle was waiting for a safe gap to merge onto the notoriously congested Lawrence Expressway. Apple's car was driving at less than 1 mph, while the Nissan Leaf was moving at around 15 mph.

According to a report from The Information and Consumer Affairs, there seems to be a growing trend involving autonomous vehicles getting rear-ended by human-piloted cars. Carnegie Mellon software engineer Dr. Phil Koopman said it's probably because the self-driving systems don't quite drive like human drivers. Waymo's vehicles, for instance, tend to stop before turning, crossing an/merging onto intersection, and to give way to pedestrians. Human drivers, especially those who don't always follow traffic laws, tend to speed up when they're supposed to slow down.

Tech giants and automakers might have to take that into account, seeing as self-driving cars will have to drive on the same roads with human-piloted ones at first. Thankfully, nobody got hurt in the August 24th Apple crash even though both vehicles got damaged.

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