Controversy Ensues as Google Self-Driving Cars Hit California Roads

Let the controversy begin as two self-driving cars reportedly had a near-collision in Silicon Valley. Or did they?

It’s official: Google’s self-driving cars are now on the roads of Mountain View, California. Google had promised it would begin testing this summer as part of its plan to release a self-driving car by 2020.

This self-driving car prototype, which was originally introduced without a steering wheel, will feature a qualified driver and manual override controls, including a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal, available at all times for safety precautions.

Google’s self-driving cars are powered by electricity and have a maximum speed of 25 MPH.

MUST-READ: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Google’s Self-Driving Cars

Google has said it plans on carrying out a number self-driving car testing programs over the coming years, to capture more data about the technological and societal challenges that still need to be overcome.

And it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t any controversy surrounding Google’s launch. Reuters reported that two self-driving cars, one operated by Google and one operated by Delphi Automotive Plc, had a close call on a Silicon Valley street earlier this week. A Google car suddenly cut off the Delphi car as it was about to change lanes on a San Antonio Road in Palo Alto, according to Reuters. When that happened, the Audi Q5 took “appropriate action and avoided the collision.”

Delphi, however, told Ars Technica that the story was “taken completely out of context when describing a type of complex driving scenario that can occur in the real world. Our expert provided an example of a lane change scenario that our car recently experienced which, coincidentally, was with one of the Google cars also on the road at that time. It wasn’t a ‘near miss’ as described in the Reuters story.”

The Delphi spokeswoman continued, “our car did exactly what it was supposed to. Our car saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into, but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again.”

In May 2015, Google said its group of self-driving cars, which have been on the roads since 2009, had been involved in a total of 11 accidents. Google said all the accidents were minor, there were no injuries, and the accidents were caused by humans driving other cars.

MUST-READ: How Safe Are Google’s Self-Driving Cars

Google released these details after The Associated Press reported that Google had notified California of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September.

The NHTSA says 94% of accidents are caused by human errors, and most accidents occur at intersections. Urmson writes that Google has identified “patterns of driver behavior (lane-drifting, red-light running) that are leading indicators of significant collisions.”

[Source:] Google Self-Driving Car Project

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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