48 such cars have been used on public Californian public roads so far. 23 vehicles belong to Google, are equipped with autonomous driving sensors and have been long tested near the Mountain View Headquarters.
Four of the 48 vehicles were reported to have been involved in accidents since September 2014, when permits for testing the vehicles started to be issued. This information was revealed by the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles.
The four cars involved in accidents belonged both to Google and to Delphi. Three of them were Lexus SUVs belonging to Google and the fourth was owned by Delphi Automotive. Neither of them admitted there was any sort of problem with the cars. Google stated that the accidents occurred through no fault of any of their cars, but they said that the accidents were caused by the carelessness of other drivers, describing the collisions as “a handful of minor fender-benders, light damage, no injuries, so far caused by human error and inattention.” “Safety is our highest priority. Since the start of our program six years ago, we’ve driven nearly a million miles autonomously, on both freeways and city streets, without causing a single accident,” a spokesperson from Google stated.
Representatives of the car parts manufacturer Delphi said that their driverless car was hit while it was stationed at a crossroads and the other driver was waiting to turn left. According to them, it was in manual driving mode when the accident occurred. They also denied the car was faulty and blamed the other driver: “A police report indicates the fault of the accident is with the second vehicle, not Delphi. No-one was hurt in the incident,” a spokesperson with the company explained.
The Associated Press revealed that according to an anonymous source, two of the cars were human-driven when the collisions occurred and the other two were presumably on self-driving mode. It was also said that all of them were going at a very slow speed at the time of the accidents.
No official details regarding the accidents have been revealed, as these are protected by the Californian regulation, which allows such reports to remain secret. Nevertheless, given the fact that the cars are new on the market, both companies have met harsh criticism from people who prompt them to release details of the accidents in order to enable consumers and lawmakers to make sensible decisions regarding the vehicles. After all, safety should be the main concern, and not only because Google thinks so.
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