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Could Audi’s New A8 Lead To a Rise In Car Accidents?

Upset driver After Traffic Accident

There are an estimated six million car accidents every year in the United States, and that number might be about to get a little higher.

By now the intentions of major auto manufacturers to push the consumer market into the next stage of automobiles, self-driving cars, is well known. It has been the dream of many, to sit back and let the car drive itself while they relax, read a book, or do any number of activities.

But the question was raised recently if self-driving cars will even work with humans behind the wheel?

According to Financial Times, handing control to the human driver safely is one of the most vexing parts of the self-driving experience. Something many developers have experienced issues with over the process of pushing the technology forward.

And now it’s going to be put to the test.

Audi has announced its intentions to put the latest in self-driving cars, its A8 Saloon, on the road.

According to the ad for the car, the A8 will be able to take control in slow-moving situations on highways but will give control back to the driver once it increases speed. Something that has experts in the industry, and researchers, concerned.

One expert expressing his concern is Professor Neville Stanton at the University of Southampton, who doubts the ability of drivers to quickly respond to situations.

“If you’re a pilot taking back control of a plane from autopilot, there’s a long time until you hit the ocean. But a motor vehicle in busy traffic has only seconds to respond.”

It takes around half a minute for a focused driver to regain control after concentrating on another task for as little as 10 minutes, his studies have found. And that number dramatically increases when the driver has been doing something for longer.

In the field of self-driving cars there are six levels of autonomy going from zero to five. Zero has no self-driving capability, and five can tackle all roads and all weathers. Most cars currently have level 1, which is cruise control or lane departure warnings.

Audi is currently proposing a level three system in their new A8.

“The driver can relax. They can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and, depending on national laws, focus on a different activity. They must merely be capable of taking back responsibility whenever the system prompts them to,” said an Audi spokesperson.

Many rival carmakers have deemed this unsafe, as having the human driver need to to take control in a dire situation can lead to disastrous results. Instead, they desire to focus on fully driverless cars that require no human interaction.

“We are skipping level three as the company views level three as potentially dangerous,” says Jan Ivarsson, Head of Safety at Volvo Cars.

The A8 Sudan will be coming to the U.S market sometime next year.