The self-driving Google Car has been relatively accident-free since it first made its way onto public roads, though Google has stated that the company is surprised at the number of incidents it has been involved in, with them recording 14 accidents within six years. However, Google claims that none of those accidents have been the fault of their vehicles, but rather as a result of human error – people just can’t seem to stop crashing into these things.
One such incident was recorded on Thursday (July 16th) with it leading to the first human injury involving the Google Car. 11 of the 14 accidents involving the vehicles have been a result of them being rear-ended, and that was the case on a July 1st collision which saw the three Google employees on board the vehicle being taken to hospital for minor whiplash, while the driver of the car that collided with them complained of neck and back pain.
The head of the Google Car program, Chris Urmson, penned a blog post in order to explain the events of the incident, writing: “Our braking was normal and natural, and the vehicle behind us had plenty of stopping distance — but it never decelerated. This certainly seems like the driver was distracted and not watching the road ahead.” He added that the “clear theme” of the incidents the Google Car has been involved in is “human error and inattention,” adding: “We’ll take all this as a signal that we’re starting to compare favorably with human drivers.”
Google’s statistics from the self-driving cars’ time on the road is actually working in the company’s favor, highlighting how human drivers can actually be more dangerous than their automaton counterparts. While the Google Car has only experienced a limited rollout thus far, with the trials taking place in the company’s home city of Mountain View, them referencing how all of the Google Car’s crashes have been as a result of mistakes made by human drivers will certainly help them gain more supporters, and should quell skeptics who are worried about the tech being introduced on a national scale.
Watch a computer-generated recreation of the July 1st accident below:
Photo: Getty Images