Google's self-driving cars were approved in California a little over a year ago. Since then, Google's self-driving cars have been involved in some traffic accidents, but not many.
According the official Google blog, there have only been 12 reported accidents out of more than 1.8 million miles of tests in the last six years. And get this, the accidents were caused by humans in every case. Not once was the driverless car to blame.
Now, thanks to what was most likely a distracted driver, a Google self-driving car was involved in an accident with injuries. But as with every other case so far, it wasn't the driverless car's fault.
Chris Umson, head of the Google self-driving car program, details the accident:
Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road. That’s a big motivator for us. The most recent collision, during the evening rush hour on July 1, is a perfect example. One of our Lexus vehicles was driving autonomously towards an intersection in Mountain View, CA. The light was green, but traffic was backed up on the far side, so three cars, including ours, braked and came to a stop so as not to get stuck in the middle of the intersection. After we’d stopped, a car slammed into the back of us at 17 mph — and it hadn’t braked at all.
Now, watch the video:
Luckily, nobody was hurt in the accident aside from minor whiplash and a few bumps. The cars are OK, with dinged bumpers and some added scratches.
Although accidents are no fun, Umson noted that there is a silver lining here. The more Google's cars get hit, the more we can learn about how self-driving cars stack up against their human counterparts. Evidence so far heavily suggests that human error and distractions are to blame each and every time.
Please, as you get behind the wheel this summer, keep your eyes on the road. The fight to end distracted driving starts with each of us — at least until that day when you can summon a self-driving car and just kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride.