Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization based in California demanded Google to release the complete details of the accidents—including all formal accident reports to acquaint people regarding the potential risks of self-driving cars.
During the annual shareholder meeting of Google, John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, and a shareholder of the tech giant raised questions about safety and privacy issues involving the self-driving cars.
Simpson said, “A Google spokesman called the crashes minor and said Google’s cars weren’t at fault, of course, that’s what any driver says when they’re in an accident, ‘oh it’s not my fault.’ But we have to take your word for it and don’t really know what happened because Google hasn’t released the actual accident reports. Will you release the reports so the public knows what went wrong and will you commit to making all future accident reports public?”
According to Brin, “It’s basically the summary we’ve already given you. I suppose we could give more detail, and we’re open to that. It’s a description, you know, we write what happened, it’s basically the summary we’ve already given you.”
A related report indicated that Brin explained that the documents related to the self-driving car accidents would reveal the same information posted by Google online. Google is withholding the details of the accidents to protect the privacy of the people involved. Accident records are not public information under the California law.
Google: Negligence of California drivers caused the accidents
The self-driving cars of Google were involved in 12 accidents over the past six years. During the tech giant’s annual shareholder’s meeting Brin said the major cause of the accidents was not a hardware or software failure, but the negligence of California drivers.
According to Brin, human drivers rear-ended Google’s self-driving cars (presumably at stop signs) in seven or eight incidents. He added that the self-driving cars were side-swiped on some occasions. There were instances when the self-driving cars sustained bumps when the company’s pilots were controlling the vehicles.
Google’s self-driving cars have potential to reduce vehicular deaths
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt reiterated that 90% of car accidents were caused by human errors. He emphasized that self-driving cars had the potential to reduce vehicular accidents that lead to injuries and deaths. Every year, approximately 33,000 people are killed in vehicular accidents in the United States.
Schmidt said, “We’re very, very close to the world with cars that can operate without intervention. I’m convinced that 100 years from now, our kids, and grandkids will see some handsome young actor in an old movie, who gets in the car and drives it. They’ll all giggle and say; ‘You let that guy drive a car? What a dangerous concept!'”
Google refuse to answer questions about privacy issues involving self-driving cars
During the shareholder meeting, Simpson asked if Google is willing to protect the privacy of the users of self-driving cars in the future. He also asked it is willing to commit today that it will only use the information gathered to operate the vehicles and not for other purposes such as marketing.
David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal counsel of Google, replied, “I think we took the position it’s a little early to be drawing all those kinds of conclusions. He added that any restrictions in “a lot of ways would reduce innovation and our ability to deliver a great consumer product.”