This article was published 9 years ago

Self-driving cars involved in minor accidents

Los Angeles Downtown LA
Downtown Los Angeles, Calif. on Interstate 110 going north. – Image credit: Flickr / Jeffrey Beall

The Associated Press has a story on accidents that involved a self-driving car. Compared with the national average, it’s high. Looking at them separately, it’s very low and only involving fender-benders.

Four of the nearly 50 self-driving cars now rolling around California have gotten into accidents since September, when the state began issuing permits for companies to test them on public roads.

Two accidents happened while the cars were in control; in the other two, the person who still must be behind the wheel was driving, a person familiar with the accident reports told The Associated Press.

California law states that the details involving those accidents remain confidential however Google went a step further and detailed (extensively) on some of the accidents that involved self-driving cars.

If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car. Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.

It’s a good read and Google details almost everything involving accidents that involved Google’s self-driving cars. Keep in mind that Google is only do this to gain positive PR points because society is still skeptical about buying a self-driving car, with safety as the main concern.

The main concern over self-driving cars is that Google’s version wants to remove the steering wheel. Regulators may not accept that version as they will be cases where a driver has to command the vehicle, like in crowded crosswalks.

What will be interesting is when – not if but when – a self-driving car becomes involved in an accident that results in am injury or a death. How will people react? Will society go with a kill-the-program attitude or let’s-view-the-facts?

As of now, self-driving cars are safe and it could be five to ten years before we see a true self-driving car on the road. All that can change with a fatal error.