There have been 11 collisions involving Google’s self-driving cars since the programme began six years ago, but Google says none of the collisions have been caused by one of its vehicles.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles began issuing permits for the testing of autonomous vehicles in September 2014, and BBC News says that four out of the 48 self-driving cars on public roads in California have been involved in accidents in the last eight months. Three of the four cars belonged to Google.
The admission of 11 collisions was made in a blog by Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car programme, who says Google’s cars have self-driven nearly a million miles, and are now averaging around 10,000 self-driven miles a week.
Chris Urmson said: “If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car.
“Over the six years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.
“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; 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.
“And as you might expect, we see more accidents per mile driven on city streets than on freeways; we were hit eight times in many fewer miles of city driving.”
“These experiences (and countless others) have only reinforced for us the challenges we all face on our roads today. We’ll continue to drive thousands of miles so we can all better understand the all too common incidents that cause many of us to dislike day to day driving — and we’ll continue to work hard on developing a self-driving car that can shoulder this burden for us.”