Once again, one of Google’s infamous driverless cars has been involved in a minor accident. And once again, Google is 100% adamant that it was totally, absolutely not the car’s fault.
It’s no secret that these self-driving robo-cars have been involved in a bunch of accidents to date – the folks at Mountain View recently came clean about a dozen or so fender-benders. But what makes this latest incident so pivotal (if for all the wrong reasons) is the way in which it is the first instance of a Google car actually being linked with an injury.
There’s technically no denying that this time around, it would be nigh-on impossible to point the finger of blame at Google. According to official accounts of the accident, the Google car was stationary at the time when another driver crashed into it at around 17mph. Along with the loss of the civilian car’s bumper, the passengers of both vehicles were treated for minor whiplash.
This takes the total tally of accidents involving Google’s cars to 14 to date, though as mentioned there apparently hasn’t been a single accident yet that was the fault of the vehicle itself or its automation software. Nevertheless, it’s inevitable that more accidents will follow over the coming months as Google sets its sights further afield than Mountain View – Austin having recently ‘welcomed’ a couple of pod cars to its roads.
“We’re seeing first-hand the true measure of how distraction is impacting driving,” said Chris Urmson, Google’s automated car bigwig while speaking with USA Today.
“None of our accidents rise to the level of police reports. So what we are experiencing is what the road is really like.”
He also went on-record to suggest that the accidents and incidents recorded to date clearly illustrate how the biggest of all dangers on the road is in fact distracted driving – cellphone use being the most common of all.
“Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road,” he added.
“That’s a big motivator for us.”