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Robotaxi Priorities: Avoid Crashes or Avoid Blame?

AV companies’ collision reports seldom if ever find the robotaxi at fault. How could that be true?
Cruise robotaxi at night
In June, Cruise received a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission to charge a fare for the driverless rides in San Francisco. (Image: Cruise)

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By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
California DMV collision reports filed by autonomousvehicle companies over the past 18 months reveal a curious pattern: Almost invariably, the blame for a crash is assigned to the human driver of the other car, casting the driverless vehicle the victim. Is this because human drivers are deemed to be organically erratic and irresponsible? Or, perhaps, are AVs driving too cautiously? A close reading of the data suggests a third possibilitythat AVs are programmed to avoid blame rather than avoid accidents.

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