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Google will now tell us when its autonomous cars crash

A member of Google’s autonomous driving team, the one in charge of creating its self-driving cars, recently provided data on accidents Google’s cars have been in. Program director Chris Urmson explained last month that Google’s autonomous vehicles have been in a total of 11 accidents, and said it was never the fault of the self-driving cars.

Despite that encouraging stat (there has actually been one more accident since then, bringing the total to 12 accidents) Google co-founder Sergey Bring argued earlier this week that Google shouldn’t make that data public. That’s already changing, and now Google will publish all information on autonomous accidents moving forward.

Accidents will be published in monthly reports on Google’s “Self-Driving Car Project Page.” The first edition covers the month of May and was published recently. It provides an overview of a lot of the data that Urmson already touched on in his earlier report, but provides more detail. Google’s self driving cars have driven 1,011,338 miles in autonomous mode, for example.

Also, Google reveals each of the incidents that have occurred, including accidents in that occurred between 2010 and through May, were not the fault of its cars. The most recent involved Google’s Lexus model AV and it was rear-ended by another car traveling at about 1 MPH. Google said there wasn’t any visible damage on the cars.

As we approach a time when autonomous vehicles are on the roads, it’s going to be important for firms such as Google to provide public data to consumers to tell a story. We need to know how safe these vehicles can be and, if something occurs, when they aren’t safe. So far, though, progress looks promising.


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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...


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