Voyage is one of many companies working on fully-autonomous self-driving cars and they are one of few who actually have cars on the road with real passengers. Voyage has minivans in two senior communities, in San Jose, CA and Florida. The minivans work to shuttle tenants around the premises. The minivans are continuously learning and becoming more adept in their environment.
To the unintroduced, this video may seem fairly lame of a video. For me (and maybe a few others) this video rings a little different. USDOT reports, “more than 50 percent of the combined total of fatal and injury crashes occur at or near intersections.” A large portion of those happen at two-way intersections as well.
When I was 17 years old, I was driving home from a school event one night through a neighborhood that had a lot of four-way and two-way stops. It was really late, and my 200,000+ mile Ford Taurus didn’t have the best headlights, so I made it a point to pay attention to each stop I made. Then at a two-way, I looked both ways and noticed to my right a minivan probably two football fields away. I decided to enter the intersection and was broadsided by a minivan.
As it turned out the driver of the minivan was also a young driver, and she panicked and unyieldingly barreled into the side of my car. Admittedly I was at fault for failing to yield to the oncoming traffic, but I trusted that there was enough time for me to cross if the minivan yielded ever so slightly. But my trust in another human was misguided, and again admittedly I should’ve just followed the rules. However, this illustrates that two-way intersections, although having a protocol, require judgment calls that even (especially) humans can be very bad at.
Obviously this video isn’t much more than anecdotal evidence that a self-driving car can make one of these turns. But it does signal to the possibilities that lay ahead with this technology. So cheers to the success of the team at Voyage.