Self-driving cars getting hit in California

2015-05-11 17:04
(Eric Risberg, AP)

(Eric Risberg, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - Four of the nearly 50 self-driving cars now rolling around the state of California have gotten into accidents since September, when the state began issuing permits for companies to test them on public roads.

Two accidents happened while the cars were in control; in the other two, the person who still must be behind the wheel was driving, a person familiar with the accident reports told The Associated Press.

Three involved Lexus SUVs that Google outfitted with sensors and computing power in its aggressive effort to develop "autonomous driving", a goal the tech giant shares with traditional automakers. The parts supplier Delphi Automotive had the other accident with one of its two test vehicles.

Google and Delphi said their cars were not at fault in any accidents, which the companies said were minor.

Since September, any accident must be reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The agency said there have been four, but would not comment about fault or anything else, citing California law that collision reports are confidential.

The person familiar with the accident reports said the cars were in self-driving mode in two of the four accidents, all of which involved speeds of less than 16km/h. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the reports publicly.

Five other companies have testing permits. In response to questions from the AP, all said they had no accidents. In all, 48 cars are licensed to test on public roads.

The fact that neither the companies nor the state have revealed the accidents troubles some who say the public should have information to monitor the rollout of technology that its own developers acknowledge is imperfect.

John Simpson, a longtime critic of Google as privacy project director of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, pointed out that the company's ultimate goal is a car without a steering wheel or pedals.

That would mean a person has no power to intervene if a car lost control, making it "even more important that the details of any accidents be made public - so people know what the heck's going on."

A chief selling point for self-driving cars is safety. Their cameras, radar and laser sensors give them a far more detailed understanding of their surroundings than humans have. Their reaction times also should be faster. Cars could be programmed to adjust if they sense a crash coming - move a few metres, tighten the seat belts, honk the horn or flash the lights in hope of alerting a distracted driver.

A higher priority so far is teaching them to avoid causing a serious accident that could set public and political acceptance of the technology back years, said Raj Rajkumar, a pioneer of the technology with Carnegie Mellon University.

Read more on:    google  |  us  |  technology

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.