One of Google’s self-driving cars was hit by a distracted driver on a California street in Mountain View, California. The self-driving car prototype was rear ended by the distracted motorist while the car was stopped. Google’s self-driving vehicles are currently being tested on California’s public roadways and are racking up about 10,000 miles per week.
This latest incident occurred during the evening rush hour as the Google car approached an intersection. Backed-up traffic at the intersection caused the Google car to stop ahead of the junction, even though it had a green light. Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving cars unit, said, “After we’d stopped, a car slammed into the back of us at 17 mph—and it hadn’t braked at all.”
The collision caused minor damage to Google’s self-driving car, but the car that hit it lost its entire front bumper. None of the passengers in either vehicle was seriously hurt. Google’s project with the self-driving cars have recorded no injuries from traffic accidents since it began back in 2009.
This is not the first instance of one of these cars being hit by a distracted driver. In a blog post, Urmson wrote,” Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road. That’s a big motivator for us.”
Human error is to blame for most of the 14 crashes recorded for the Google cars, with 11 of those being rear end collisions. Urmson says, “And not once has the self-driving car been the cause of the collision. Instead, the clear theme is human error and inattention. We’ll take all this as a signal that we’re starting to compare favorably with human drivers.”
However, last month two self-driving cars almost got into an accident in California. One car was from Google while the other was a Delphi prototype. Both companies brushed off the near miss, saying that their technologies were performing appropriately to avoid a collision.
Urmson said, “Although we don’t like getting hit, there’s a silver lining here. We all want to know how self-driving cars are measuring up against their human counterparts, but the statistics we need to do this simply aren’t ordinarily gathered.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that there are millions of fender benders each year, accounting for as many as 55 percent of all crashes. Many of these crashes do not have police reports written on them, so they are difficult to track.