Google reports about a first injury accident of their self-driving cars. One of their Lexus SUVs got rear-ended causing minor injuries to passengers.
Google revealed in a new post that one of their self-driving cars was involved in an injury accident. This is the first accident a Google Self-driving car was involved that caused injuries. A Lexus SUV was rear-ended at an intersection in Mountain View, CA on July 1.
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The traffic light was green, but the intersection was backed up on the far side, so three cars, including Google's, braked and came to a stop so as not to get stuck in the middle of the intersection. After the Lexus stopped, a car crashing into the back of it at 17 mph and as the animation below shows hadn’t braked at all.
Google makes a point in the report that Summer is one of the most dangerous times of the year on U.S. streets and that the self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road.
There are no comprehensive statistics that compare self-driving cars and standard cars in terms of getting hit. Google's Chris Urmson explains: "W’re now driving enough — and getting hit enough — that we can start to make some assumptions about that real crashes-per-miles-driven rate; it’s looking higher than we thought. (Our cars, with safety drivers aboard, are now self-driving about 10,000 miles per week, which is about what a typical American adult drives in a year.) It’s particularly telling that we’re getting hit more often now that the majority of our driving is on surface streets rather than freeways; this is exactly where you’d expect a lot of minor, usually-unreported collisions to happen. Other drivers have hit us 14 times since the start of our project in 2009 (including 11 rear-enders), and not once has the self-driving car been the cause of the collision."
Google's self-driving cars actually have eyes in the back. They see everything that is going on around the car all the time. They never get distracted like humans do. The question is if there are ways the self-driving car could prevent getting rear-ended. It sees it coming. Google could employ some kind of visual warning system that flashes and in addition use the horn to get the attention of the driver that is about to hit the Google Car.
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The video above shows that there are about 3 seconds from the time the Google's Lexus stopped to getting hit. This would have been ample time to get the attention of the distracted driver.