In a not-so-shocking turn of events, it turns out that robots are very good at mechanical tasks, and humans are overconfident in their driving abilities.
A new study from the AAA put human drivers who considered themselves adept at parallel parking in a "park-off" against five models of self-parking cars. The result? Human drivers got absolutely destroyed by the automated cars in a test of basic parking skills.
Nearly 80% of survey respondents contacted by the AAA said they were "confident in their parallel parking abilities." But self-parking cars hit the curb 81% less often than human drivers in the road test, and parked themselves with 47% fewer maneuvers. Self-parking cars were also able to park 37% closer to the curb than human drivers, and—to add insult to injury—they did it 10% faster than the humans.
"Self-parking technology outperformed manual parking in number of curb strikes, number of maneuvers, speed and accuracy," said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center, in a press release announcing the survey results. "While Americans report feeling confident in their parallel parking abilities, this technology proves there is room for improvement."
"Park assist," as self-parking car technology is often called, is currently standard on some high-end models. The AAA tested a 2015 Lincoln MKC, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic, a 2015 Cadillac CTS-V Sport, a 2015 BMW i3 and a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Limited.
Safety experts are generally fans of automation in automobiles, and for good reason—studies show that 90% of crashes are caused by human error. Self-driving cars are already safer than human drivers, and the only collisions involving self-driving cars thus far have been caused by humans. While self-parking systems aren't perfect, neither are the humans who routinely cause fender benders in grocery store parking lots.
Hilariously, despite being shellacked by robots in the test, only one in four humans surveyed by the AAA said they would trust self-parking technology to take control of their vehicle. Keep the faith, guys! And don't mind me, while I let this robot keep my bumper scratch-free.