Insight: AI, autonomous driving and the question of road safety

AI, autonomous driving and the question of road safety | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

Japan’s government last week approved a major change to the country’s road traffic law, giving the green light to self-driving cars. And while some people fear it will cause a spike in traffic accidents and pedestrian fatalities, one expert says we’re likely to see the opposite.

Japan has had self-driving cars on the road before. The government has been staging limited tests in some districts since 2017. But next year vehicles will be allowed to switch to self-driving mode on congested highways. And people will be allowed to use their phones while their cars are moving, as long as they are able to quickly retake control.

Morimoto says the switch to autonomous driving won’t be without its problems. He warns that we might see an increase in the number of accidents at first, until drivers are used to seeing such cars on the roads. But he says the long term future should be a whole lot safer.

“People say 90 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error,” he says.  “So without human error, 90 percent of accidents might disappear.”

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