Human driver, taking over from computer, crashes autonomous car

-WALL STREET JOURNAL, 21 JANUARY 2016, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

A driver crashed a test car earlier this month from Cruise Automation, a startup that makes an autopilot system that can be added to existing cars, following a tricky hand off from computer to human.

The Jan. 8 crash in San Francisco brings to light several things. It demonstrates one of the biggest challenges to semi-autonomous systems: Bringing a driver back into control after the computer has been driving. It also points to Cruise taking a new direction with its technology. Its original system worked only on the highway. The one being tested, on an electric Nissan Leaf, was in a much more challenging city environment.

The accident occurred at 1:48 p.m. near 7th Street and Bryant Street in San Francisco.According to an accident report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles by Cruise, the Leaf, while in autonomous mode going about 20 mph, started to drift left in its lane and then corrected to the right. The driver took control of the wheel, but after doing so ran into a parked Toyota 7203.TO -1.50% Prius with no occupants. <Read More>