Four self-driving cars out of the 48 that now run on Californian roads have been involved in accidents over the last eight months.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles had issued permits for the autonomous automobiles in September last year. Their records show that three of the autonomous cars belonged to Google, and one belonged to the parts supplier, Delphi. Both firms have denied their cars were the causes of accidents. Instead they were either stationary with human passengers, in manual drive mode, or driving very slowly while being bumped from behind by other vehicles.
The BBC reports:
Under Californian law, details of car accidents remain confidential.
However, Google said its driverless cars had never been the cause of an accident, and that the majority of “minor fender-benders” had been in the form of rear-end collisions from other drivers.
“Safety is our highest priority. Since the start of our programme six years ago, we’ve driven nearly a million miles autonomously, on both freeways and city streets, without causing a single accident,” said a spokesperson.
Delphi told the BBC its vehicle was hit while stationary at a crossroads and was in manual driving mode at the time.
“A police report indicates the fault of the accident is with the second vehicle, not Delphi. No-one was hurt in the incident,” said a spokesperson.
An anonymous source told the Associated Press that two of the accidents occurred while the vehicles were occupied by human drivers, and all four vehicles were going very slowly at the time of the collisions.
Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self driving car programme, wrote in a blog post that there have been 11 accidents involving Google cars since the project began six years ago but not one has been caused by one of its vehicles.
“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,” he said.
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