All the things that still baffle self-driving cars, starting with seagulls

To watch a self-driving car park itself seems like magic. Pull back the curtain, it’s a lot messier. Cars mistake snowflakes for obstacles, lose lane markings, and miss cars on the side of the road.

Engineers are racing to make cars perform better than humans, with the aim of saving millions of lives each year. Human error is to blame for 94% (pdf) of annual US traffic fatalities, according to the US National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Autonomous vehicles promise to prevent most of them. Even today’s off-the-shelf features, such as lane departure alerts (now widely available), could cut fatal crash rates by 86%, estimates the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Read the Article