They have been hailed as a technological revolution to alleviate the stresses of life on modern roads.
But it seems that driverless cars may in fact be the latest cause of tension for motorists, after it emerged that two out of six crashes with self-driving cars in California involved humans attacking them.
In one incident, a self-driving Chevrolet, operated by General Motors’ Cruise driverless car division, was waiting at a traffic light for pedestrians to cross in San Francisco.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the robotic car’s mere presence prompted a man to run across the street "against the ‘do not walk’ symbol, shouting, and [to strike] the left side of the Cruise AV’s rear bumper and hatch with his entire body".
The unusual episode did not cause any injuries, but the car "sustained some damage to the left rear light", the DMV’s report found.
The car was in self-driving mode, but there was a person sitting behind the wheel, as is required by California law.
The second incident, a robotic car with a human driving was stopped behind a taxi in San Francisco when the cab driver "exited his vehicle, approached the Cruise AV, and slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch," according to a DMV report seen by the LA Times.
It comes as the state announced new regulations which will allow robot cars with specific permits to be driven on public roads without a human driver on board from April 2.
Key Questions | Driverless cars
Currently permitted self-driving cars can be tested on public roads in California as long as someone is behind the steering wheel and can take control if necessary.
Any crashes, however minor, must be reported to the DMV.
Of the six accidents reported so far in 2018, three were in self-driving mode and three were being manually controlled by humans.
The four other accidents were minor incidents that did not involve any injuries.
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