Google: Self-driving cars had 11 'minor' accidents

Google: Self-driving cars had 11 'minor' accidents
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Google on Monday reported that its self-driving cars have been in 11 “minor accidents” in the six years they have been on the road. 

Chris Urmson, the director of the program for Google, said the company’s fleet of self-driving cars never caused any of the accidents, which only involved light damage and no injuries. Seven of the incidents involved another car crashing into the back of a Google car.  


Google’s fleet of more than 20 self-driving cars has logged 1.7 million miles — with and without a driver. The cars themselves logged about 1 million miles on their own, while Google safety drivers logged the rest. In a blog post, Urmson did not detail what number of accidents occurred when the cars were driving autonomously compared to being driven by safety drivers. 

“If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car,” Urmson wrote in the post

Google’s disclosures came after The Associated Press reported that four accidents in California had involved self-driving cars since the state began handing out permits last September. Two involved instances when the car was driving autonomously. Those statistics do not reflect who was at fault. 

According to Google, the United States lacks a baseline to compare how often these minor accidents occur, because they are often unreported. But it citied statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noting that a majority of crashes involve minor fender benders.

Google cited other government data that found more than nine out of 10 car crashes are caused by human error. 

“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 8 times in many fewer miles of city driving,” Urmson wrote. 

California is one of a handful of states that allows driverless cars on the roads for testing.  

Some lawmakers have pressed the NHTSA to do more to allow driverless cars, so that the public can enjoy their safety benefits. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MORE (R-Neb.) sent a letter to the agency in March asking where the agency is in the process of updating its rules.

They noted that a 2013 policy, called the Preliminary Statement of Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles, recommends that states not authorize self-driving cars for anything other than testing.