Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) on Friday announced that it would release monthly reports on self-driving car accidents. In last month’s report, the company revealed that the car has been involved in 12 accidents since it began testing in 2009.
Most of the accidents involved rear-ending, and Google mentioned that one of the self-driving cars was read-ended at a stoplight sign in California, bringing the total to 13. Public interest group Consumer Watchdog has asked for more details on the accidents including statements from witnesses and other drivers. Google stated that none of the accidents were caused by a fault with the car.
“That could mean that the vehicles tend to stop more quickly than human drivers expect,” said Consumer Watchdog.
However, a Google spokeswoman rejected Consumer Watchdog’s allegations as most of the read-ended accidents occurred when the vehicle was stopped. Last month, Google’s self-driving program director Chris Urmson said that the cars have been involved in 11 accidents. Google’s self-driving Lexus RX450h were the most affected in the accidents.
The pod-like prototype vehicles are set to be taken off the test track, and on the Mountain View, California roads, this summer. The two-seater car is touted as the “world’s first fully self-driving vehicle.” The prototypes built by auto-supplier Roush industries in Detriot will be equipped with removable steering wheels, brake pedals and accelerator pedals, allowing test engineers to “take over driving if needed.” said Urmson.
The first monthly report provides details about the car’s learning capabilities in words and screenshots, and how they are able to adapt the behavior of emergency vehicles (which do not obey traffic signals) as well as taking notes of cyclists merging into car lanes at night. Consumer Watchdog director John Simpson stated that Google is dribbling out bits and pieces of information in order to silence legitimate calls for full transparency.[ Source ]