Last week, Google revealed the news that one of its much anticipated self-driving cars was involved in a car wreck with injuries for the very first time. Certainly, this wasn’t the first time one of Google’s prototypes had been in a collision, but this was the first such crash that left passengers walking away with complaints of pain.
This particular crash occurred when a Lexus SVU made over with all of Google’s technology was rear-ended in Mountain View, CA. The three Google employees inside all complained of whiplash injuries. The car’s sensors showed that the Lexus was traveling at about 15mph in self-driving mode behind two other vehicles when it had to slow for traffic further ahead on the road. The vehicle behind the Lexus then struck the rear bumper traveling at approximately 17mph.
According to Google, this was only the 14th wreck in six years of testing involving its self-driving cars and that none of its own vehicles have ever caused any of these crashes. 11 of these 14 crashes involved rear-end collisions similar to this latest incident. Clearly, the problem with these kinds of collision is distracted or inattentive driving- something a Google self-driving car can’t control when it’s coming from other vehicles on the road.
While these statistics are impressive, the day is coming when self-driving cars are going to be all over the road, and when that happens, these lofty numbers are going to take a hit. Not only will these autonomous vehicles have to account for the poor driving of others on the road, but they will have to make calculated driving maneuvers on the fly that may cause crashes themselves. It is only a matter of time before Google gets tagged with a claim when one of its cars makes an incorrect calculation that leads to a serious injury. This first injury crash is merely a harbinger of things to come.