With the introduction of Google’s ambitious self-driving car project,
many are concerned over the safety of these vehicles. Google’s fleet
of 32 autonomous cars have been in the testing stages since 2009, and
have driven more than 1.8 million miles combined in their time on the
roads. During this time, the cars have been involved in 12 minor accidents.
While many would be quick to blame technology and become fearful of its
institution, Google has indicated that not a single one of these crashes
have been the fault of the car – but rather the error of a human
behind the wheel. In each of the 12 recorded collisions, a human had been
Not once has a self-driven car been the cause of an accident. Eight of
the reported collisions involved another driver rear-ending the driverless
vehicle, while the rest involved other drivers sideswiping or turning
into the automated cars. This indicates that technology isn’t what
we should be fearful of – other drivers are.
Google’s proposed technology is quite impressive. The cars have an
advanced situational awareness that many drivers could only aspire to
obtain, being able to compensate and react to potential hazards before
they occur. In the monthly reports released by the company, images have
been released portraying the way the cars think, showing their ability
to recognize emergency vehicles and pedestrians. In addition to testing
the functionality of the cars, Google has collected considerable data
regarding driver behavior and the leading causes of accidents.
According to their findings, the leading causes of accidents are:
- Distracted driving
- Running red lights
- Lane drifting
- Last-minute turning
- Weaving through traffic
This data has been used to further improve the cars’ safety, equating
to nearly 75 years of adult driving experience. These precautions have
made these cars much better at driving than the average American, pushing
the company’s vision closer to realization and mass implementation.
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As shown by Google’s findings, drivers frequently make mistakes.
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