Self-Driving Cars Have a Problem: Safer Human-Driven Ones

“We are sentient beings, and we have the ability to reason from first principles, from scratch if you will, while AI on the other hand is not conscious, and doesn’t even understand what it means that there’s a physical world out there,” says Raj Rajkumar, a professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who collaborates with General Motors Co.

Machines are already a huge help to drivers. Take automatic emergency braking, or AEB. That’s when your car stops itself if it detects that you’re about to hit another vehicle or other obstacle. According to new data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, AEB reduces rear-end crashes by 50%, and reduces crashes with injuries by 56%. In the U.S., there were 1.7 million such rear-end crashes in 2012, resulting in 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Mass deployment will take many years, but the NTSB has estimated that this technology could eventually reduce fatalities and injuries from rear-end crashes by 80%.