Man vs. Machine: Collision of Truck and Self-driving Car Investigation Results

Augmented reality video games and 3-D printing are just two “futuristic” technologies that we’ve successfully integrated into society. And while we’ll have to wait a little longer for teleportation and hover cars, self-driving cars are the latest automations that tech companies want to include in our lives; once they work out the kinks, that is.

As reported by the Las Vegas Sun, an investigation has recently finished of a case that began in 2017 where a collision occurred between a semi and an experimental self-driving vehicle produced and operated by companies Navya and Keolis respectively.

Now, you probably know the process of cases involving your basic car accident, but things get more interesting when there’s “physically” only one party involved.

Since it’s literally man vs. machine, the good thing is that there’s no second human being to exaggerate their story. The downside, however, is that there’s no second story to begin with and no immediate counter-argument altogether.

Instead, investigators must rely on camera footage and digital records produced from the vehicle’s system and even that will only project so much. Even if there’s an onboard safety personnel, that individual’s words are worth little in this case as the main issue is a possible defect in the manufacturing.

Due to this still being new technology, the National Transportation Safety Board took it upon themselves to investigate the crash personally.

What they found was that the truck driver was delivering food and had backed from an alley into the street while expecting the shuttle to stop a good distance away.

The shuttle’s detectors saw the truck and only slowed down the shuttle while the onboard passenger, with no immediate access to the manual controls, pressed the emergency button to get it to stop in the path of the truck.

The truck driver, who looked away from the shuttle to keep his eye on a crossing pedestrian, kept backing up and then struck the shuttle.

A decision hasn’t been made on the case yet, and both “parties” have already been considered partially at fault: the truck driver for looking away and assuming the shuttle would move to avoid him and Navya/Keolis for leaving the shuttle’s safety operator inside without direct access to the manual override controls.

What is certain is that the outcome of the case will definitely impact future personal injury proceedings involving humans against technology. It’s simply another kink that needs to be worked out.