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Google acknowledges 11 accidents with its self-driving cars

25.05.2015 | AP News / Google Inc. | bigstory.ap.org

Google Inc. revealed Monday that its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago. The company released the number after The Associated Press reported that Google had notified California of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September, when reporting all accidents became a legal requirement as part of the permits for the tests on public roads.

The director of Google's self-driving car project wrote in a web post that all 11 accidents were minor — "light damage, no injuries" — and happened over 1.7 million miles of testing, including nearly 1 million miles in self-driving mode.

Google self driving Car"Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident," wrote Google's Chris Urmson. "Cause" is a key word: Like Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier which suffered an accident in October with one of its two test cars, Google says it was not at fault. Delphi sent AP an accident report showing its car was hit, but Google has not made public any records, so both enthusiasts and critics of the emerging technology have only the company's word on what happened. The California Department of Motor Vehicles said it could not release details from accident reports.

This lack of transparency troubles critics who want the public to be able to monitor the rollout of a technology that its own developers acknowledge remains imperfect. John Simpson, privacy project director of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, notes that Google's ultimate goal is a car without a steering wheel or pedals. This could prevent a person from taking over if a car loses control, making it "even more important that the details of any accidents be made public — so people know what the heck's going on."

Delphi's accident report shows that the front of its 2014 Audi SQ5 was moderately damaged when it was broadsided by another car while waiting to make a left turn. Delphi's car was not in self-driving mode at the time, company spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said.

Five other companies with testing permits told the AP they had no accidents. In all, 48 cars are licensed to test on state roads.

That left Google, which has outfitted 23 Lexus SUVs with driverless technology. Asked last week whether its cars suffered the other three accidents, it acknowledged "a handful of minor fender-benders, light damage, no injuries, so far caused by human error and inattention."

Read more at APNews

Image Crredit Google