There are many plausible reasons to believe that self-driving cars are safer than those operated exclusively by humans. One is Google’s recent announcement that the 11 incidents its autonomous autos have been involved in can all be attributed solely to human interaction. But the technology is still nascent, and the potential for pitfalls is alarming. A newly released video shows a group of besuited journalists testing out Volvo’s fancy new self-parking feature: the car gently reverses itself, waits, and then accelerates rapidly into two soon-to-be-bruised men. The cause of this horrific event? The XC60 in question apparently wasn’t equipped with the “Pedestrian Detection” feature—that option requires an extra fee.
Admittedly, there were several theories raised as to why the Volvo launched itself into these two unfortunate (but ultimately okay) bystanders; initially journalists suspected that something had malfunctioned, or that a previous driver of the car had managed to override the car’s ability to detect pedestrians by, at some point, actively accelerating.
But, as Volvo spokesman Johan Larsson told Fusion, the problem in the video is much more simple, and slightly more alarming: “The Volvo XC60 comes with City Safety as a standard feature however this does not include the Pedestrian Detection functionality.” So, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, your new Volvo will automatically brake for the car ahead of you, but not for a person.
Volvo has produced some rather impressive technology that will not only stop for pedestrians but also cyclists, and it’s been on the market for several years now. It works with the assistance of a radar behind the grill and a camera tucked behind the windshield—and comes as an additional package for around $3000. The problem is—it’s not the same as the City Safe feature, which comes standard, but only brakes for cars.
So before you and your friends/colleagues/local media decide to stand around in front of your accelerating, unmanned Volvo, make sure you know which add-on packages it has, and which it doesn’t.
Via The Independent
Images via Volvo