… Blames Motorists for 13 Accidents
Google has promised to soon begin publicising records of accidents in which its driverless car has been involved since it commenced road testing, using its fleet of heavily modified Lexus SUVs.
After nearly six years of testing and 1.8 million miles driven, the Google fleet has reportedly been involved in 13 accidents, according to reports the company submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In a recent blog post, Google self-driving car project lead Chris Urmson noted that all of the accidents were the fault of other drivers and not the overly cautious driverless cars. A number of the incidents involved motorists rear-ending the Google cars at stop lights.
“Rear-end crashes are the most frequent accidents in America, and often there’s little the driver in front can do to avoid getting hit,” wrote Urmson. “We’ve been hit from behind seven times, mainly at traffic lights but also on the freeway. We’ve also been side-swiped a couple of times and hit by a car rolling through a stop sign.”
Urmson also reported that Google’s chaperone drivers have noticed a range of distracted driving behavior over the years. “Our safety drivers routinely see people weaving in and out of their lanes,” he wrote. “We’ve spotted people reading books, and even one playing a trumpet.”
The first monthly report provides insights into the cars’ learning capabilities, and details in words and screen shots how they are able to detect and make adjustments for the behavior of emergency vehicles (which often do not obey traffic signals) as well as take note of cyclists merging into car lanes at night.
“A cyclist on the left had entered the left turn lane, but veered back into our path to continue straight across the intersection,” the post notes. “At the same time, the cyclist on the right entered the intersection, travelling against the flow of traffic. That cyclist then took a sudden left turn, coming directly at us in our lane.
“Our car was able to predict that cyclist’s path of travel (turquoise line with circles) so we stopped and yielded. This happened at night, when it would have been very difficult for a human driver to see what was unfolding.”