Google Car has been involved in 11 accidents during testing period

Google says the accidents have come during 1.7 million miles of test-driving the vehicle.

Google Self-Driving Car, photo by Gordon De Los Santos
Google Self-Driving Car, photo by Gordon De Los Santos

Google’s self-driving car has been involved in 11 accidents during its six-year testing period, the company has revealed.

Writing on Medium, Google’s director of the self-driving car programme Chris Urmson says that the accidents took place during 1.7 million miles of both autonomous and manual driving and that “not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident”.

Urmson says that none of the accidents caused serious damage or injuries. He says the cars have been hit from behind seven times and also side-swiped and hit by a car rolling through a stop sign.

Urmson says: “Even when our software and sensors can detect a sticky situation and take action earlier and faster than an alert human driver, sometimes we won’t be able to overcome the realities of speed and distance; sometimes we’ll get hit just waiting for a light to change.”

Google’s self-driving cars have “360º visibility and 100 per cent attention in all directions at all times”, says Urmson. He adds that Google’s newest sensors can track other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to a distance of nearly 200m.

Google has been road-testing its driverless cars for six years, with the driverless technology retrofitted on to existing car models, such as the Toyota Prius and the Lexus models. Since 2014 the company has been testing its own Google Car model on Californian roads.

Urmson says the driverless cars have so far clocked up 1.7 million miles, both manually and autonomously controlled, and that the cars have self-driven nearly 1 million of those miles.

Following prototyping and testing, Urmson says Google aims to work with partners “to bring this technology into the world safely”.

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