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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

"I was horrified": Leaders respond to footage of Black and Latino Army officer threatened at traffic stop

An Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after he said they drew their guns and pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop in December, WTKR reports.

Why it matters: Footage of the incident has drawn widespread criticism from leaders and groups in the state. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is heard saying “I’m honestly afraid to get out," to which a police officer responds “Yeah, you should be," in a video from a body-worn camera.

Chauvin trial leaves cities, activists across America on edge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The impact of the Derek Chauvin trial is reverberating far beyond the walls of the downtown Minneapolis courtroom.

The state of play: With the trial set to enter its third week, activists across America are watching the proceedings unfold with heavy skepticism that what they perceive as justice will be served.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The dispiriting housing boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it.

Why it matters: Not all bubbles burst. Real estate, in particular, tends to rise in value much more easily than it falls. Besides, says National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."

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