By on May 12, 2015

Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

Yesterday, Google said it was involved in three recent autonomous-vehicle accidents on California’s roads. The tech giant since admitted to eight more.

The 11 total accidents occurred over the six-year period Google has been working on autonomous technology with its fleet of over 20 vehicles, Reuters reports, though project director Chris Urmson adds that none of them occurred with the vehicle in a proactive role.

Urmson said seven of the 11 reports involved rear-end collisions mainly on city streets at a traffic light, as well as a couple of instances where the vehicle was side-swiped, and one where a car rolled through a stop sign before striking one of Google’s cars.

The explanation comes as the tech giant and supplier Delphi were found to have been involved in four recent accidents involving autonomous vehicles since California granted such vehicles permission to test on public roads last September, the details of which were kept private due to the state’s reporting laws. Urmson says none of the accidents involved injury, with all vehicles receiving only minor damage from each incident.

[Photo credit: Google]

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27 Comments on “Urmson: Google Involved In 11 Autonomous-Vehicle Accidents Over Six Years...”

  • avatar

    Didn’t anyone see Maximum Overdrive?
    My God – won’t someone please think of the children?

  • avatar

    Come to think about it: 11 accidents in 6 years is pretty impressive.

  • avatar

    Every time I see that picture of that little autonomous bubble I want to use it as target practice for learning how to properly fire an RPG.

    And I am not a violent man.

    It makes me think of the Eloi of HG Wells Time Machine waiting to be killed like fated calves by Morlocks.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s some terrible American interpretation of a cutesy Japanese car they saw in an anime.

    • 0 avatar


      there certainly wouldn’t be much left

    • 0 avatar

      “I want to use it as target practice for learning how to properly fire an RPG.”

      OMG! You beast!

      I want to take it home and give it a nice bowl of water and some Mouse Chow.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it is cute. Would be perfectly happy to stagger into one after an evening at a bar. If I ever spent my evenings drinking in bars.

      As for the accidents, I have husband and wife friends who have had their two cars hit 7-8 times in the past ten years, in Massachusetts. None their fault, just idiots around them. Including one case where an unattended car rolled down the hill in front of their house, went airborne over their lawn, and center-punched their Xterra that was parked in the driveway. Though I guess a self-driving car should have seen that coming and moved itself out of the way! Amazingly, that did not quite total the Xterra (it did get a whole new roof)…

      I’ve been rear-ended twice in the past 10 years just sitting at traffic lights, been rear ended while moving in a snowstorm by an idiot in a Subaru who though AWD improved braking in snow, and had the front of my Saab ripped off while parked by an idiot in a truck pulling into the space in front of it. And a rental car backed into while parked at a hotel.

  • avatar

    Well you know the saying. In order to make an omelet…and so forth

  • avatar

    “…..none of them occurred with the vehicle in a proactive role.”

    If the autonomous control system wasn’t driving the car when these accidents occurred, they are irrelevant to any discussion of autonomous vehicles.

  • avatar

    From what I read, all of the accidents were caused by the human in the other car:

  • avatar

    There really is not enough information here for any informed judgement. What was the ratio of miles driven to accidents? Were the accidents caused by the autonomous cares or did someone else run into them? What was the severity of the accidents?

    • 0 avatar

      This is the INTERNET. Get out of here with your reasonable questions!

      Seriously though, I have the same questions. Not all accidents are created equal.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    Here we are again with the internet turning a lit match into a raging inferno.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s 7 accidents in Cali since Sept,nearly one a month.
      OTOH,the Google accidents seem like drivers can’t see the vehicle,which a larger size and better lights might help.

      • 0 avatar

        Those are some pretty poor drivers if they can’t see a Lexus RX. Because those are the autonomous cars.

        These little blobs are not for testing on public roads. One quick glance can already tell you that they don’t meet DOT requirements.

  • avatar

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a less-credible-looking car in my life.

    It’s like the message is, “The future is now! And it’s lame!”

    • 0 avatar

      “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a less-credible-looking car in my life.”

      It’s a prototype and will mostly like be confined to closed communities like campuses and corporate parks. Remember, the Wright brother’s prototype didn’t exactly look like a credible Cessna.

  • avatar

    It concerns me that no one is allowed to see the details of the accident reports to determine whether or not we are being given the whole story.

    And I fear for the day when, perhaps for CAFE or other reasons, they are given the green light for general use when there are still scenarios where they are not able to adequately cope.

    Good enough by some bureaucrat’s influenceable standard is not good enough.

    As citizens we should have the right to examine the data, debate its meaning, and have the final word on when they will be allowed free rein on our streets.

    But I am not holding my breath…our leaders have already determined that they know better than we do what is best for us.

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