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Expand chart
Data: State of California Department of Motor Vehicles; Note: As of August 24, 2018; Icon: Guilhem/The Noun Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A year since Axios first examined the data, there are now 55 companies with self-driving car testing permits in California and 54 new accidents, based on filings of incident reports in the state. But one thing has remained constant: Humans continue to be the cause of most accidents.

By the numbers: All those beige cars in the chart above indicate incidents where autonomous vehicles were not considered "at fault" — that is, people were. Even when AVs are at fault, that's most often been in cases where humans were at the wheel ("conventional mode").

The bottom line: Unless self-driving cars magically replace all conventional cars in the country overnight, robots will have to drive alongside humans. What’s more, they’ll have to drive alongside pedestrians, cyclists and other humans with whom they share the road. And at the moment, self-driving car tech doesn't seem to be advanced enough to handle all these humans.

  • This is in part why some companies are deploying their first vehicles on specific routes or defined regions, where the cars will interact with a limited set of surprises. For example, Drive.ai is starting in an office park in Frisco, Texas, while Voyage got its start giving rides to residents in retirement communities, and May Mobility is developing shuttles for company and school campuses.
  • Recently, artificial intelligence expert Andrew Ng also suggested (stirring up some controversy) that it’s pedestrians who need to improve their behavior and train to maneuver safely around self-driving cars.

Yes, but: It’s still hard to compare self-driving car accident rates to those of human drivers, despite the widespread hope that self-driving cars will be much safer than humans, as University of Central Florida professor Peter Hancock pointed out in a blog post.

One new thing: In three incidents, humans intentionally attacked a self-driving car, such as by hitting it, or climbing on top of it.

Flashback: Axios’s first look at the data in August 2017

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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