Proponents of autonomous cars say they will one day be safer than ones driven by humans, but they’re not safe from humans today.
Companies testing autonomous cars on California roads are required to file reports on all accidents to the state DMV, and two out of the six submitted so far this year involve people attacking the cars, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The first altercation took place on the night of January 2 in San Francisco’s Mission District, where a GM Cruise vehicle was waiting at a crosswalk for pedestrians to cross when a shouting man came from a different direction against a “do not walk” sign and threw himself into the car, damaging its rear light. The attacker’s identity and motives remain unknown.
GM Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors that operates dozens of of test vehicles in San Francisco as a ride hailing fleet for employees.
A second incident in the city followed on January 28, when another GM Cruise vehicle was stopped in traffic behind a taxi and its driver got out of his car and walked over and “slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch,” according to the official report. There was no contact between the vehicles and no suggested cause for the assault noted.
No one was reported injured and the police were not called in either episode. GM Cruise reported two other collisions this year that resulted in minor damage, one while the vehicle was in autonomous mode and the other while the driver was in control.
Current state regulations require a human backup driver to be in the vehicle at all times, but starting on April 2 companies will be able to deploy fully driverless cars with remote drone-like connections from a central command center.
In January, GM Cruise revealed plans to launch a car without a steering wheel or pedals next year if federal approval is granted.