Heated discussions have taken place in the US, where a caustic article published by the Associated Press put fuel on the fire in the case of autonomous cars that Google is testing for 6 years on streets and roads. This comes after AP journalists found that the cars which test autonomous driving systems were involved in three accidents from September 2014 onwards. Therefore, the technological giant officials have published some information relating to the pilot program which is under development and the the traffic incidents in which the Google cars were involved.
In September, a fleet of 50 autonomous cars received authorization to run on the streets of California.
According to a report quoted by Associated Press, four of the 50 cars able to drive around by themselves were involved in road accidents. Three of them belong to Google and one is under the administration of Delphi Automotive. All 4 accidents occurred at speeds below 16 km/h (10 mph).
According to statements by Chris Urmson, the engineer in charge of developing this project for Google, the cars have been involved in 11 accidents that occurred since 2009, but in none of them the automatic steering system was to blame. In the project developed by Google 23 modified Lexus RX SUV versions can be found.
Google representative stressed that the incidents did not produce victims and that none of the injuries was produced due to the autonomous cars. For example, the Google prototypes have been hit seven times in the back while sitting at traffic lights. Chris Urmson also invoked the American Administration statistics for the Highways and Traffic Safety which shows that 94 percent of road accidents are caused by the fault of the driver.
So far, the Lexus hybrid models adapted by Google have traveled about 1.7 million kilometers (1,056,331 miles) in fully autonomous mode, mostly in urban traffic. Every week these models run about 16,000 km (9,941 miles) without a driver, recording important data for understanding the patterns of behaviors encountered in real traffic.
Google has allowed, starting with 2012, its employees to use these cars. But it turned out that they were accustomed to leaving the car to run alone without being careful. The US giant will better document human behavior when on California’s roads. This vehicle looks like a golf kart and travels to its indicated destination by itself.
However, these vehicles will have limited speed at 40 km/h (25 mph) and will be equipped with removable steering wheel and pedal for acceleration and braking, as required by law. At the same time, they will also have a driver to intervene in case of emergency.
“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” Chris Urmson said.