A hit-and-run incident that left a pedestrian gravely injured in San Francisco earlier this week is raising questions about whether autonomous vehicles (AVs) can handle the unexpected as well as, or better than, human drivers.
Driving the news: The incident involved both a human-driven car (which made the initial impact with the pedestrian) and a Cruise AV (which then also struck the victim).
Why it matters: Driverless cars need to do three things: See their environment, predict what’s about to happen, and decide what to do.
Prediction is the most challenging because AVs lack the instincts of a human driver.
The big picture: The promise that driverless cars will be safer than human drivers is almost the entire selling point of the technology — but as they roll out in a growing number of cities, a string of incidents in early markets like San Francisco and Austin has put the public on edge.