Google has admitted its self-driving vehicles have been involved in 11 minor accidents in the six years they’ve been in testing, but claims the experimental cars were never to blame for the incidents.
All of the accidents during 1.7 million miles of manual and autonomous driving included light damage and no injuries, said Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car programme.
The majority of the collisions happened when the cars were hit from behind, with some on the motorway and some at traffic lights.
Google’s investment in self-driving cars is part of its internal project, dubbed X, that focuses on the long-term opportunities for cutting-edge technologies. The company has touted safety as an upside for self-driving cars — using sensors, mapping and other tools to avoid the mistakes that lead to accidents caused by human drivers.
Urmson’s post appeared after the Associated Press reported that three of Google’s self-driving vehicles were involved in accidents in California since September.
Google relies on humans in the cars and back-up technology during tests for the self-driving vehicles.
“Even when our software and sensors can detect a sticky situation and take action earlier and faster than an alert human driver, sometimes we won’t be able to overcome the realities of speed and distance,” Urmson said. “Sometimes we’ll get hit just waiting for a light to change.”