In the automobile arena, the race is on to perfect and market the first self-driving car. By many accounts, Google is leading the pack with its fleet of autonomous vehicles which cruise around California roadways, driving themselves though with an operator in the vehicle at all times. The vehicles work by syncing GPS enabled technology with the steering, accelerating, and braking functions of a typical car, utilizing sensors around the vehicle so that changing traffic conditions, hazards in the road, and even congestion can be monitored.
Google has previously disclosed 17 minor accidents involving its self-driving vehicles on public roadways but has always said that the collisions were never the fault of the Google cars themselves; rather, in each instance, Google has blamed the actions of other drivers, some of whom admitted liability, in the creation of the collisions. None of those crashes were serious.
However, now Google has revealed a new accident and has accepted at least partial liability for the traffic crash which took place on February 14, 2016.
Reports from Google reveal that an autonomous car from its fleet was operating on a public roadway in Mountain View, California when it intended to turn right. The vehicle entered the right most lane of the road before coming upon sand bags that had been placed in the roadway, around a storm drain. To avoid the sand bags, the vehicle attempted to change lanes from the right lane to the center lane and began its maneuver traveling at approximately two miles per hour. At the same time, a bus approached the area in the center lane, traveling approximately 15 miles per hour. The Google car believed the bus would yield to it and the bus believed the Google car would yield instead, leading both vehicles to collide. Google reported minor damage to its vehicle’s left side and it stated that no one was injured in the crash.
In a statement, Google acknowledged some responsibility for the incident, stating that if the Google car had not moved, a crash would not have occurred. This marks the first crash that Google has accepted any amount of blame for an accident involving the public on a public roadway, a significant change but one that Google is quick to address. The company notes that the type of misunderstanding that led to the crash at issue happens between human drivers all the time and causes accidents. Google further stated that it would adjust its technology to react more appropriately to similar situations in the future and it noted that its autonomous fleet has successfully traveled more than one million miles without being at-fault for a car accident – a feat that not many human drivers could claim.
The big takeaway appears to be that no operators, whether they are human or automated, are perfect behind the wheel yet.
Until we can eliminate all mistakes, collisions will continue to happen and will continue to threaten the safety and the lives of those who live in the Phoenix area or who reside elsewhere in Arizona. If you find yourself the victim of a crash, know that you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages but only if you act in a timely manner.
The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. offer a case consultation without cost or obligation to all victims who call us toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER or locally at (602) 819-5191. We keep a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year because we believe in being available to injury victims, whenever they need us. If you have questions or if you are looking for help, call us now and let us walk you through your options for relief.
Prior Blog Entry:
Electronic Log Mandate May Reduce Phoenix Truck Accidents, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published February 26, 2016.
Google’s self-driving car at fault in accident, by Chris Isidore, CNN Money, published February 29, 2016.