To a large degree, the goal of creating driverless cars is to avoid accidents. The vast majority of crashes stem from human error. If that can be eliminated, crash totals would theoretically fall, drastically reducing injuries and fatalities. Right now, about 1 million people die every single year from car accidents, globally speaking, so there's clearly a high degree of risk.

In order to reach that end goal, though, some have argued that it would be good if driverless cars would crash more.

Learning From Mistakes

The argument being made is essentially that only by taking risks and pushing the envelope can technology really move forward. The Space Race was also dangerous, but it led to terrific advancements. Risks can't always be avoided. Plus, as noted above, the risk level right now is tremendous thanks to human error, so taking smaller risks may be wise if it leads to a massive reduction down the line.

At the same time, the best way to learn is to examine why accidents happen and how they can be fixed. For example, a driverless car was testing out new software coding that would make it drive more like a human driver, and it was involved in a low-speed crash. The car was only gong 2 MPH at the time and it hit a bus that was going 15 MPH as it tried to navigate around an unexpected obstacle.

No, that's not the optimal result. However, a low-speed accident with no injuries can still help programers learn what changes need to be made, potentially allowing them to avoid high speed crashes with injuries and fatalties in the future. In that sense, a "failure" becomes a building block to success.

The Driverless Era

Overall, driverless cars seem to be getting closer every day. Mistakes may be made during this process, and risks will be taken. While the ultimate goal is to learn from these things, other drivers absolutely need to know their rights if they're injured in accidents with these vehicles. These crashes can raise complex questions about fault, liability, and who needs to cover the costs when there's simply not a second driver.