Many government agencies and automakers predict that autonomous vehicles (AV) will be common on our roads by 2025. Automakers are making strides advancing the technology within our vehicles, such as adding driver-assist technologies and automatic emergency brakes, but we still have a long way to go before driverless vehicles are the norm on our roads.

Yet, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has partnered with a few large tech companies to begin testing AV technology.

Stretch of Georgia highway designated to test driverless vehicles

An 18-mile section of Interstate 85, now called The Ray, has AV-friendly lanes to test advanced driving systems and driverless technology. GDOT, 3M and Panasonic adjusted the infrastructure of this stretch of highway to add:

  1. Refractive bead technology, to make lane stripes more visible for drivers and AV systems; and
  2. A network of roadside units for AV systems, to help the sensors in the vehicle work better.

The section of the highway is for testing the technology of both the AVs and the new infrastructure. These driverless vehicles will not be sharing the road with other Georgia drivers yet. However, these tests are causing many people to wonder about the potential risks that driverless cars could pose.

Could driverless cars increase the chances of accidents?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that AV systems could one day help prevent car accidents by eliminating human error. Human error is certainly one of the primary causes of car crashes. And epidemics like distracted driving have only increased that margin of human error.

However, this technology is still so new and therefore poses new risks as shown by the recent crashes involving Tesla’s driverless technology. These risks could include:

  • Manufacturing defects;
  • Potential hacks into AV systems; and
  • Sensors on AV systems failing.

This is not to say that AV systems will not be incredibly beneficial in the future. Even so, there will still be new risks that Georgia drivers will have to prepare for as technology continues to advance.