Google: Driverless Cars Not to Blame for 11 Accidents

But Google, California DMV haven't released full accident reports
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2015 8:45 AM CDT
Google: Driverless Cars Not to Blame for 11 Accidents
This file photo taken May 13, 2014, shows a row of Google self-driving cars outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg,File)

Google's fleet of 23 self-driving Lexuses has been involved in 11 accidents over the past six years of testing in California—but the company says not one of those incidents was the fault of a Google car, the AP reports. Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving initiative, writes in a Medium blog post that its vehicles—which have logged 1.7 million miles—had accidents that involved "light damage, no injuries"; seven of the cars were rear-ended (usually at traffic lights) and most of the accidents took place on city streets, not highways, Reuters notes. Urmson also lists other reasons why cars may get into accidents other than not having a driver: tricky intersections and turns, people not paying attention (he even cites one driver spotted playing the trumpet).

The accidents are being labeled as minor and somewhat typical—Urmson notes "if you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you're in a car or a self-driving car"— and advocates for driverless cars say they actually improve safety because the cars are constantly scanning the environment for accident-causing factors and may react more quickly, the Washington Post notes. A nonprofit watchdog is trying to get both Google and the California DMV to release full reports for these accidents and any future incidents, but that doesn't seem to be happening: The DMV is citing confidentiality laws and won't give access, while Google (for now) is declining comment, per the Wall Street Journal. (A Google Street View car that got into an accident had a human driver.)

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