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Man Sues GM Over Crash with Driverless Car

Oscar Nilsson says he was behind a Bolt in heavy traffic when the vehicle abruptly veered into his lane.

The world still seems to be split on whether driverless car technology makes us feel more or less safe than the human alternative. On the one hand, research suggests that autonomous vehicles would cut the rate of accidents significantly compared to having a person behind the wheel. On the other hand, we still haven’t seen them rolled out in a significant enough way to improve our comfort level.

Still, automakers have been making tons of advancements on the technology front, and communities across the country have become testing labs for the next big thing in automotive. But where there are experiments,  there are – inevitably – problems, and Jalopnik is reporting that GM is being sued for an accident that took place in California involving a motorcyclist and one of its autonomous vehicles.

Motorcyclist Oscar Nilsson is claiming a December collision with a Chevy Bolt has forced him to file disability for shoulder and neck injuries. Nilsson says he was behind a Bolt in heavy traffic in San Francisco when the vehicle abruptly veered into his lane, knocking him to the ground.

From its vantage point, GM probably doesn’t have much to worry about, considering a police report after the accident cited Nilsson as being at fault. Apparently GM’s story is that its driverless car, which had a human backup driver, was changing lanes when it attempted to abort the move as Nilssen’s motorcycle encroached, illegally attempting to pass the Bolt on the right.

The police also said that Nilsson was traveling at 17 miles per hour, and the Bolt was going a mere 12.

And while the police report seems rather comprehensive, does it have to be? Perhaps the days of your-word-against-mine type incidents that forced police to piece together the details are over. My guess is that if law enforcement weren’t able to clear the Chevy Bolt in this case, the car itself probably could – which raises the question: will police push to gain access to a car’s “memory” of an event, by reviewing the data collected by sensors, radar and on-board cameras?

For its part, GM seems less-than-stressed, reiterating in a statement that the human was cited in this case, not the machine. The media report also notes that, of 22 incidents that took place in GM’s tests of the Cruise self driving car last year, all of them were blamed on the humans involved.

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