Google smart cars in just 12 accidents in 1.8m miles, all human error
Tech giant issues first monthly incident report on driverless vehicle experiments
Google's driverless cars have been involved in just 12 accidents, all minor, and all caused by human error, the company announced in its first incident report on its smart vehicles.
Google's smart cars have covered over 1.8m miles since the start of the project in 2009. Since then, all accidents involving Google vehicles were low-speed collisions and did not involve injury. In five of the incidents, the car was in manual mode and one of those incidents occurred outside testing, when a Google employee "ran an errand" using a smart car and was responsible for a minor accident. According to Google's report, apart from that incident all accidents involved fault by a non-Google party.
Google said it would release an incident report every month, but its first report disclosed all accidents since the beginning of the project. Its cars have travelled a total of 1,011,338 miles in autonomous mode and 796,250 miles in manual mode since experiments began. The company claims to be averaging 10,000 autonomous miles each week at various times of day.
Half of all incidents occurred while Google vehicles were stationary or almost stationary, either at traffic lights or road junctions. In these incidents Google cars were hit at low speed by others that failed to stop.
The report covers incidents up to Wednesday 3 June, but another on Thursday brings the accident total to 13. This was also a rear-ending at traffic lights.
The report also covered a near-miss occurrence, at night, involving a Google car and two cyclists. Google included a graphic of the incident and explained that the on-board systems were able to predict the path of the cyclists and come to a stop, avoiding collision. Google argued that a human driver would have likely been unable to respond as effectively given the impaired visibility at the scene.