Google says that for the first time, an injury has been reported in an accident involving its self-driving cars. Being an initiator of this technology, Google has made a heavy investment and considers it to be safer and more efficient than human drivers. No accident report was filed by Mountain View police, which happened earlier this month.
Minor injuries reported
The tech giant disclosed on Thursday that among 20 prototypes perfectly moving through traffic, one of its Lexus SUVs equipped with sensors and cameras was rear-ended in Google’s home city of Mountain View. Google said three of its employees riding in the car suffered minor injuries.They were checked at the hospital and declared fit to go back to work soon after the July 1 collision while the other car’s driver also complained of back and neck pain.
In California, for any case of emergency, a person must be there to take control whenever the self-driving cars are being tested on public roads. Usually Google sends one more employee to record the details of the ride, but in this case, a third passenger was in the back seat.
In a blog post, Chris Urmson, head of Google’s self-driving car program, wrote that the SUVs “are being hit surprisingly often” by preoccupied drivers, possibly looking at their phones. As in the last six years and approximately 1.9 million miles of testing, this was only the 14th accident.
Google blames the other car
As per the Google report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles about the July 1 crash, their SUV was moving about 15 mph in self-driving mode and was behind two other cars, and they were approaching an intersection with a green light. The first car stopped, and so did the Google car and the third car. But, within a second, a fourth car with a speed of about 17 mph rear-ended the autonomous car. Google, citing its on-board sensors, stated that the other car did not brake.
Urmson told ABC News in a telephone interview that his team was investigating the accident and if they could do something like honking to alert an unfocused driver to stop and avoid it but said it might be irritating to Mountain View residents.
“We’ll take all this as a signal that we’re starting to compare favorably with human drivers,” said Urmson, adding, “The clear theme is human error and inattention.”