Well, it looks like Consumer Watchdog is getting at least one of its many wishes related to Google’s behavior. Last month, reports came out about four of Google’s self-driving cars being involved in accidents since September. Some of these reports were overblown considering that the accidents were actually the fault of human drivers, but the consumer group (a regular critic of may of Google’s endeavors) called on the company to release reports of accidents to the public, and to commit to doing so regularly in the future.
It would appear that Google has done just that. Google has a website for the self-driving car project, and has begun to put out monthly reports, which detail activity as well as accidents. There’s one out for May now, which you can view here.
In the section labeled “accidents,” it says:
Given the time we’re spending on busy streets, we’ll inevitably be involved in accidents; sometimes it’s impossible to overcome the realities of speed and distance. Thousands of minor accidents happen every day on typical American streets, 94% of them involving human error, and as many as 55% of them go unreported. (And we think this number is low; for more, see here.)
In the six years of our project, we’ve been involved in 12 minor accidents during more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving combined. Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.
The first monthly report includes summaries of each of the accidents since the start of the project in 2009, though in future reports, Google says it will only provide info for that month.
The reports are a good idea. I tend to think that a lot of the reporting about the accidents is sensationalized, making these cars seem more dangerous than they really are, which is counterintuitive as they’re supposed to make the roads safer. I do, however, think Google increasing transparency about what exactly is happening in any accident situation is in the interest of the public. So far, it only seems to be helping Google’s case. Humans are the problem.
Image via Google