Google’s Self-driving Cars Caused 11 Accidents In 6 Years

Google’s Self-driving Cars Caused 11 Accidents In 6 Years
Google self-driving car in Mountain View Mark Doliner / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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Google’s self-driving car has been involved in 11 minor road accidents since it went on testing mode six years ago. According to The Verge, since September, there have been four accidents with the automated car, just after they started issuing permits for the vehicle. Almost 50 self-driving vehicles were allowed to roam around the state, and in most accidents, human error was blamed.


Over the last 6 years, the twenty Google self-driving cars have covered 1.7 million miles in total. The company said the cars drive 10,000 miles a week in autonomous mode. Eleven accidents acknowledged by Google were pronounced as part of legal testing. According to the company, no injuries were caused by such.

Out of the 11 accidents, seven happened when another vehicle rear-ended the Google car, two were sideswipes, and a car traveling past a red light caused one more. According to Google, the sensors and algorithm of the cars are far more attentive than human drivers, as they are more error prone. These self-driving cars have become comparatively safer.

As far as the last four accidents are concerned, three Lexus SUVs were involved in three accidents, which happened during intensive self-driving tests near the Mountain View headquarters. The fourth vehicle was owned by Delphi Automotive. No specific details of the accident are available, as according to the Law of California, details of accidents can remain private.

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All that is known about the fourth accident is that the self-driving Audi of Delphi was moderately damaged when it was broadsided by another vehicle. It was waiting to turn left and was not at self-driving mode at that point. Kristen Kinley, the company’s spokesperson, has confirmed the fact.

While all accidents are explained well by the company, the problem is that you have to believe what Google says. According to critics, it is not possible for a self-driving vehicle to ascertain the activities of a pedestrian. It will never know if the person will run, walk, stop or jump, which can be a problem.

Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program, wrote on Backchannel, “Even when our software and sensors can detect a sticky situation and take action earlier and faster than an alert human driver, sometimes we won’t be able to overcome the realities of speed and distance; sometimes we’ll get hit just waiting for a light to change.”

Urmson also added, “In the spirit of helping all of us be safer drivers, we wanted to share a few patterns we’ve seen. A lot of this won’t be a surprise, especially if you already know that driver error causes 94% of crashes.”

There are different views among car enthusiasts and critics. The road accidents have brought up new questions that need to be answered.