Chevy Volt's Collision Warning System Gets Confused By The Sun (Story) −

Electric Cars

Published on September 7th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Chevy Volt’s Collision Warning System Gets Confused By The Sun (Story)

2017 Chevy VoltDetractors often like to bring up the potential situations where self-driving technologies could occasionally perform worse than human drivers, as a means of arguing against the deployment of these technologies. Obviously, this line of reasoning ignores the point that self-driving technologies are already less likely to cause an accident in a great number of situations/scenarios.

When taken together, it seems a reasonable estimation that future self-driving technologies will notably slash auto-accident deaths (probably mostly by taking the distracted, drug-impaired, smartphone-obsessed, very old, etc., out of the pilot seat). That’s not to say that self-driving technologies will be perfect, and they certainly aren’t so now.

Case in point, here’s a recent story shared on the forum (by “Sean-a-Tron“) involving a Chevy Volt’s collision warning system confusing the sun for an object that could be collided with.

“My Volt saved my life! While I was driving home today, going uphill; I didn’t realize how close to the sun I’ve come! Suddenly, my Volt slowed down and alerted me that I was about to hit something! If it didn’t stop me, I would’ve certainly collided with the sun. In reality. I heard a beep, felt my car slow down and thought: ‘Ah ****, my car is having issues and I’m about 2hrs away from home’. It was sort of a relief, and annoyance, that it was a false-positive on the collision warning. First time that happened to me. Almost certainly the glare of sun blinded the forward camera, causing it to malfunction.”

Sean-a-Tron shared a video of the occurrence as well. The sun did look pretty daunting in that.

Although the Volt’s autonomous collision avoidance system did seemingly “malfunction,” it did so in a way that was not dangerous, it should be noted. Better to have a false positive than a false negative.


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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Wallace

    How can you say stopping for no apparent reason is not dangerous? It is a good way to get rear ended. I think they need to be perfected before releasing auto braking features.

    • jack8trades

      How many times have you had to brake for a driver, mentally (or otherwise,) cursing them for stopping with no apparent reason, only to find out soon afterwards that they *did* have a reason you just didn’t see at the time? If auto-braking saves 10 people from accidents that they could have avoided had they been more attentive, while causing 1 due to a driver making assumptions that it’ll be obvious when someone will stop, is that justified?

      On the flip side, is it a good idea to add functionality that can allow drivers to be less careful, while introducing additional hazards, however unlikely, from other drivers who are less careful?

      I foresee problems in the future when auto-protect features are more prevalent but not universal, and someone who’s used to those features drives a vehicle without them.

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