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Self-driving cars, Tesla | Accidents with cars on autopilot: – There are clearly technical challenges

2021 may be the breakthrough year for self-driving cars, but accidents are a cause for concern.

2021 may be the year in which self-driving vehicles take over the market in earnest, and Norway is far ahead in the test phase. It is Tesla that is in the driver’s seat for the time being.

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This autumn, the electric car giant released a beta version of its so-called “Full self driving” function (FSD – see below) to a selection of American Tesla owners.

But the self-driving cars are far from risk-free. The online newspaper wrote in June last year about a serious accident on the island of Taiwan. Here a small truck overturned, blocking two of the lanes.

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Read also: Report: Self-driving buses can cause “road network to break down”

Neither the car nor the 53-year-old driver should have perceived the truck before it was too late. According to Taiwanese media, the car, a Tesla Model 3, must have driven on autopilot at around 110 km / h before it crashed into the truck.

Self-driving Teslas have therefore led to some bizarre and dramatic events. The online newspaper reported in September about a sleeping Tesla driver at 150 kilometers per hour.

Also in Norway, there are several examples of accidents with Tesla on autopilot, including an accident in November last year, as shown in the picture at the top of the case.

That time it went well, but in another accident in May 2020, also on the E18, a trailer driver was cut down by a Tesla with the car steering on. The Tesla driver is charged with negligent homicide, as he should not have been sufficiently careful when passing a trailer that was partially out in the roadway.

Also read: The driver’s seat has been loose for two years. Now Svein Halvard no longer dares to use the Tesla

Hit the police car

As a result of the many accidents, a German court ruled that Tesla is no longer allowed to say that the cars are self-driving or that they come with “autopilot”.

The website then wrote that Tesla has for several years been criticized for using the word “Autopilot”, because many motorists associate this concept with the cars being completely self-driving.

All new Teslas today are capable of providing Autopilot features. That is, they have the ability to run completely on their own in the future through software updates that improve functionality over time.

– Cars on Norwegian roads are not completely self-driving, but they have so-called advanced driver support systems (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) that will make it easier for the driver, points out injury prevention Therese Nielsen in Fremtind, the insurance company of SpareBank 1 and DNB, to Nettavisen.

Nielsen explains that the problem is that the technology we have today is not mature enough for the cars to drive all by themselves.

Also read: The driver’s seat has been loose for two years. Now Svein Halvard no longer dares to use the Tesla

– Do not blindly trust the systems

Accidents where the driver has used an autopilot, means that we get a completely new danger in traffic.

– Technology can make us so safe that we become lethargic when we drive, or that we start fiddling with other things, for example with the mobile phone or the big screens that we see in new cars, she says.

Nielsen points out the importance of keeping your eyes on the road and the surroundings, following the speed limits and leaving your mobile phone lying while driving.

– The car’s movements and behavior are only your responsibility as a driver, she says.

However, she believes that technology, such as autopilot, can in the long run contribute to increased traffic safety.

– Support systems and safety technology clearly work, but today’s technology is intended as help and support, she emphasizes.

– Do not blindly trust or let yourself be “pacified” by all the functions in the car – such as autopilot and rear view camera, she says.

The same applies to the use of cruise control, which today is found in many cars. This means, for example, that you do not have to hold the gas even during the entire drive.

– The problem with cars becoming increasingly automated is that young people today are less trained in dealing with situations if the technology fails on a drive, Nielsen says worriedly.


Director of mobility services in Ruter, Endre Angelvik, says that there are clear challenges with self-propelled vessels on the road.

– This is a complex picture, but there are clearly technical challenges. Those who have come the furthest in the world with this are Google’s company Waymo, which already has a fleet of self-propelled vessels in Phoenix, Arizona.

– Waymo offers driving in urban environments for up to 50 kilometers without a safety driver on board. Chrysler has ordered 60,000 of these vehicles, Jaguar 20,000, Angelvik answers.

Today, according to Angelvik, there are 12 meter autonomous buses in China and in Amsterdam, while Volvo has a couple of buses in Singapore for testing. For the Oslo region, the long-term ambitions are great.

– The goal is for the region to be such a good place to be, that Google and Apple want to put their next office here.

Ruter and the mobility company Holo are collaborating to try out self-driving vehicles from Toyota as part of the public transport offer in the Oslo region. The pilot project has so far included autonomous minibuses in central Oslo and out to Malmö.

The project is now approaching the third phase, where a new self-driving travel offer will be launched in Ski over the New Year.

– This is great fun. So far we have shipped approx. 30,000 passengers in self-driving vehicles, and 33,000 kilometers have already been driven. We have had some minor accidents, such as scratches in the paint and scratches.

Read also: Extreme chaos in Oslo-gate: Here the bus driver gives up

No injuries

– But there have been no injuries, no collisions with major injuries. And in all the cases I am familiar with, it is not the technology that has failed. The accidents were due to manual operations with stationary vehicles and other impatient road users, Angelvik says.

In each of these vehicles, there is a responsible person who has had a role defined, in addition, there is a responsible person for the operation as a whole. Angelvik says the most interesting thing about self-driving vehicles is to replace private motoring.

– Our simulations show that between 20,000 and 30,000 self-driving vehicles can replace all private motoring in the Oslo region, ie 670,000 vehicles, says the Ruter director.

With a significantly smaller car park, the need for the number of parking spaces is reduced, which will also provide benefits in the form of a better urban environment. Norway is currently somewhat behind internationally.

– Simulations show that we can remove over 90 percent of today’s vehicle fleet in Oslo and Akershus and reduce the number of kilometers driven by 30 percent on the roads, Angelvik says to Nettavisen.

Extra advanced

The Tesla Autopilot includes a number of advanced systems that help the driver, including the car being in the middle of the lane, speed control that takes into account traffic, self-parking, automatic lane change, and the ability to unload the car from a garage or parking lot.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated this autumn that he is “extremely confident” that the new technology is ready to be rolled out to drivers next year. Norway and Canada will be among the first countries to test the new technology as soon as the first test phase is over.

Musk believed in August that at least some of the legislation would give the thumbs up for the self-driving cars, and that all new cars in 2030 will be able to drive by themselves.

New legislation

Regulatory, however, there are obvious challenges, because most of the legislation in the Road Traffic Act is built around the driver. Angelvik still believes that Norway has a good room for maneuver, which gives us a great deal of room to participate in driving technology forward.

Read also: Evaluation: Dangerous situations around self-driving buses

Angelvik believes that over time we will see a greater degree of autonomy on the buses. A water project is well underway.

– There is a ferry connection between Moss and Horten, where all you do is click on the start button, and the ferry does the rest. Permission has now been granted for eight out of ten trips with “Bastø VI” to be run autonomously, Angelvik says.

Ketchup effect

He says it is difficult to say anything definitive about when the self-driving vehicles can be rolled out on a large scale. There will probably be some ketchup effect.

– It is important to be on the ball, and we really think something has happened by 2030, but we are still in the phase of experimentation and pilot until 2025.

And regardless of development, there is no prospect of any mass redundancies of drivers in the future.

– No, today we struggle more to get recruited people to drive public transport. What Ruter is doing in self-driving is not about replacing today’s drivers, but a better sustainable transport system in our region, Angelvik emphasizes.

Efficient subway

For the subway, Ruter has no concrete plans for self-driving lorries, although internationally there are a large number of subways that are currently unmanned.

– But you already have one of the best and most efficiently driven infrastructures in the world and a good collaboration with Sporveien. Other countries send delegations here to look at our system, says Angelvik

He says what surprises foreigners in particular is our open landscape and unmanned stations. It is based on trust and the honesty of Norwegians, that we do not skip the counters. Something like this would have been unthinkable at, for example, the metro in Paris.


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