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Google Self-Driving Car Innocent In First Injury Accident

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Lexus RX450h Google Car

Lexus RX450h Google Car
Image: Ben

When you talk about self-driving cars, the concern is always that the vehicle won’t “see” another car’s sudden movements . Now, following one of Google’s prototype’s first accident with injuries, critics are probably patting themselves on the back–not because people were injured, of course, but because these autonomous cars clearly can’t control themselves.

Now, hold on just a second. When you know the details, it’s obvious that the Google-outfitted Lexus SUV (presumably the Lexus RX450h hybrid that makes up a large portion of the fleet) was not at fault as it was rear-ended by the car behind it. The three Google employees inside were sent to the hospital to be checked for whiplash, and the driver of the offending car also complained of back and neck pain.

Overall, the 20 prototypes of Google’s self-driving program have been involved in 14 accidents in 6 years and 1.9 million miles of testing. In 11 of the 14 accidents, the Google cars were rear-ended by distracted drivers. One of the collisions was the fault of the Google car, but it was not in self-drive mode at the time.

According to Chris Urmson, head of Google’s self-driving car program, “The clear theme is human error and inattention. We’ll take all this as a signal that we’re starting to compare favorably with human drivers.” The team at Google is considering adding a component to the self-driving cars to help alert drivers of other vehicles before a crash, like a horn honk, but they are worried about it annoying other drivers because of the frequency in which the alerts would be used.

To us, that just sounds like a really polite way of telling the world that we should be way more concerned about human drivers who can’t pay attention to the road than whether or not self-driving cars can navigate themselves.

News Source: ABC News/Associated Press