On Monday Google Inc. revealed that ever since the company has started experimenting with self-driving technology its cars have been involved in only eleven minor traffic accidents. Ever since September, when permits began being issued for companies who wanted to test self-driving cars on public roads, 50 such vehicles are now rolling around the state of California and only four of them have gotten into accidents.
Two accidents took place when the cars were in control and the other two happened when somebody was driving the car. Google’s Lexus SUVs were involved in three of the accidents and one accident involved one of Delphi Automotive’s two test vehicles.
Chris Urmson, Google’s director of the program, declared on Monday that over the six years since the company started the project they were involved in eleven minor accidents which presupposed only light damage and no injuries. Urmson emphasized that they were minor accidents which happened in 1.7 million miles (2.7 million kilometers) of both autonomous and manual driving. He also remarked:
“If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car.”
Since September companies which produce self-driving cars must report any accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles which cannot reveal details about the accidents. This is troublesome for the critics since they want the public to observe the rollout of this technology whose own developers acknowledge that is faulty.
Privacy project director John Simpson of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog and a critic of Google drew attention to the fact that the ultimate goal of the company is to make a car which does not have steering wheel or pedals. This means that if a car loses control the driver does not have the power to intervene. That’s why it is important that details of any accidents should be made public in order for people to know what is going on.
Google has not made any accident reports public, but Delphi has. It seems that the company’s Audi SQ5 was broadsided by another car while it was waiting to turn left. The car was fairly damaged, but according to Kristen Kinley, a spokeswoman for Delphi, the car was not in self-driving more then.
Technology pioneer Raj Rajkumar of the Carnegie Mellon University pointed out that right now the highest priority for companies which have launched self-driving cars is to make sure that their vehicles are not involved in severe accidents since this could hugely affect the political and public acceptance of the technology and set it back years.
Image Source: Guardian LV