Google Self-Driving Cars Involved In Two Crashes in June

Is it too soon for self-driving cars? According to a report released by Google, the self-driving cars were involved in two accidents in June. But there’s a catch: the crashes were caused by human error.

The first accident was a fender-bender in which the Google AV (short for “autonomous vehicle”) was rear-ended by a human-operated car while both vehicles were traveling at just 1 mph. No big deal, right? But the second accident was a little more detailed. Not by much, but still notable enough for Google to dedicate a paragraph to it. For science!

The second incident occurred on June 18. From Google’s report (which you can read in full here):

A Google Lexus model autonomous vehicle, known internally as a “Google AV,” was traveling north on California St. in Mountain View in autonomous mode and was stopped at a red light in the straight-only lane at the intersection of California St. and Bryant St. The lane to the left of the Google AV was a left-turn-only lane. The vehicle waiting immediately behind the Google AV in the straight-only lane began to move forward when the green arrow left turn signal appeared (despite the signal for the straight-only lane remaining red) and collided with the rear bumper of the Google AV. The Google AV had been stopped for about 11 seconds at the time of impact. The other vehicle was traveling about 5 mph at the time of impact. There were no injuries reported at the scene by either party. The Google AV sustained minor damage (scrapes) to its rear bumper. The other vehicle sustained minor damage (scrapes) to its front bumper.

Google Self-Driving Cars Involved In Two Crashes in June

Credit: Google

The report goes on to add that two more of the 25 licensed prototype bubble vehicles have been tested on public roads, to considerable success. Of course, every vehicle has a live operator in it, and the car has been set to only reach a top speed of 25 mph. However, it’s a necessity in the test phases, as safety takes precedence over functionality. Luckily, neither of those two prototypes were involved in an accident, according to Google’s report. The report was initially released by Google after pressure from the Associated Press and Consumer Watchdog, as both organizations were stonewalled by the DMV when they attempted to access records of any accidents in which the vehicles were involved. To ease the pressure, Google complied, with this month’s report serving as the first in what will become a series, as the company will release a new progress report each month from here on out.

Naturally, accidents are always to be expected with any technology, particularly something as new as this. But the report states that the self-driving cars have only been involved in 14 accidents since first hitting the streets in 2009. And that’s damned impressive. I know a lot of people aren’t exactly ready to give up their driving privileges just yet, but I’m sure there are just as many who are excited that self-driving cars may be in wide use in their lifetime. It’s almost like we live in the future or something.

But what do you think of the Google AV? Sound off in the comments!

And for more, check out a Google AV on the open road!

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