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Carmakers Are Pushing Autonomous Tech. This Engineer Wants Limits.

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Systems like General Motors Super Cruise can steer, brake and accelerate vehicles on their own.

Companies sometimes market these systems as if they made cars autonomous. But their legal fine print requires drivers to stay alert and be ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Credit: Mason Dent/The New York Times

Last fall, Missy Cummings sent a document to her colleagues at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that revealed a surprising trend: When people using advanced driver-assistance systems die or are injured in a car crash, they are more likely to have been speeding than people driving cars on their own.

The two-page analysis of nearly 400 crashes involving systems like Tesla's Autopilot and General Motors' Super Cruise is far from conclusive. But it raises fresh questions about the technologies that have been installed in hundreds of thousands of cars on U.S. roads. Dr. Cummings said the data indicated that drivers were becoming too confident in the systems' abilities and that automakers and regulators should restrict when and how the technology was used.

People "are over-trusting the technology," she said. "They are letting the cars speed. And they are getting into accidents that are seriously injuring them or killing them."

From The New York Times
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