Google releases more details on self-driving car accidents

June 5, 2015
Google releases more details on self-driving car accidents
This May 13, 2014, file photo shows a Google self-driving Lexus at a Google event outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Google will release monthly reports on the performance of its self-driving cars, and it disclosed summaries of the accidents that involved the vehicles. The company said Friday, June 5, 2015, as it has in the past, that its cars were not to blame for any of the accidents. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Google is disclosing more details about the 12 accidents involving its self-driving cars so far as part of a commitment to provide monthly updates about the safety and performance of the vehicles.

The summary released Friday described all of the collisions as minor, saying no injuries were reported. As it has been doing for several weeks, Google said that the self-driving technology was not to blame for any of the . In one case, however, an employee used the self-driving to run an errand and rear-ended another car that was stopped in traffic. Google had previously disclosed that accident, which happened in August 2011.

Google's breakdown of the accidents came just two days after company co-founder Sergey Brin told shareholders that the company had already disclosed most of the pertinent information about the crashes.

Consumer Watchdog, a group that has been a longtime Google critic, has been pushing the Mountain View, California, company to release all of the accident reports filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and other . Dissatisfied with Google's accounting, Consumer Watchdog on Friday renewed its call for the company to release the official accident reports.

The Associated Press has asked Google and the California Department of Motor Vehicles for the reports. Both have refused, citing privacy concerns.

While the latest disclosures fell short of providing the official accident reports, they did give previously unreleased information on the locations and dates and circumstances of the 12 accidents.

Google Inc. started testing the cars in 2009, and the first accident was in May 2010.

The company says six of the accidents happened while the car was in autonomous driving mode. The other six happened while staffers were driving, including one incident where the car was hit by another driver who rolled through a stop sign. Google says the self-driving car automatically applied the brakes when it detected the other vehicle, and Google's driver took manual control once the brakes were applied. The Google vehicle sustained some damage.

All but two of the accidents happened in Google's hometown of Mountain View, where the company plans to begin testing its latest —a pod-like vehicle—this summer.

While several of the accidents happened at low speeds or while the car was stopped, in one case a Google vehicle was driving 63 miles per hour on a highway in San Jose, California, when another vehicle veered into its side.

Google's cars have been involved in four accidents so far this year, according to the . It says the cars travel about 10,000 miles a week on public streets. The vehicles have driven about one million miles in autonomous mode and Google's drivers have been in control for 800,000 additional miles.

Explore further: Google founder defends accident records of self-driving cars

Related Stories

Self-driving cars getting hit in California

May 11, 2015

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

Things to know about accidents involving self-driving cars

May 11, 2015

A small fleet of self-driving cars is maneuvering through traffic in California using an array of sensors and computing power. Drivers are required to be along for the ride, but much of the time, they keep their hands off ...

Shareholders endorse Google's course

June 3, 2015

Google shareholders on Wednesday endorsed the course set by the Internet titan, rejecting proposals to dilute its power structure and scrutinize investments in renewable energy.

Latest self-driving Google car heading to public streets

May 15, 2015

The latest version of Google's self-driving car—a pod-like two-seater that needs no gas pedal or steering wheel—will make its debut on public roads this summer, a significant step in the technology giant's mission to ...

Recommended for you

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

Wall-jumping robot is most vertically agile ever built

December 6, 2016

Roboticists at UC Berkeley have designed a small robot that can leap into the air and then spring off a wall, or perform multiple vertical jumps in a row, resulting in the highest robotic vertical jumping agility ever recorded. ...

20 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Multivac jr_
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 06, 2015
Develop a self-working desk and then I won't have to sit in traffic commuting to and from work anymore.

But there's no way in Hell I'd ever buy a self-driving car, for more reasons than I could list in the space allotted.
nathanielrhamrick
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 06, 2015
I want to buy one of these vehicles ASAP. How much? We need to pass some local laws and make these cars mandatory.
Multivac jr_
3 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2015
I want to buy one of these vehicles ASAP. How much? We need to pass some local laws and make these cars mandatory.


Since there were no indicators of sarcasm included with your comment, I'd suggest that you might want to wait until they actually work before forcing them on everyone.

And by that I mean that they operate properly outside of the narrow range of conditions and places within which they're currently restricted to. Something as simple and common as a light snowfall easily confounds these self-marketing vehicles (among many other situations or conditions).

Also, your reflexive desire to use the law to compel "mandatory" adoption of a flawed and as-yet untrustworthy technology suggests you either have a personal interest in the product (e.g. you're shillin' for Scroogle) or you're disturbingly obsequious in general. Possibly both.
TehDog
5 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2015
@Multivac
"But there's no way in Hell I'd ever buy a self-driving car, for more reasons than I could list in the space allotted."

You're welcome to list them across multiple posts, I'd be interested in seeing them.
(I'm not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely interested)

Multivac jr_
3.5 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
@Multivac
"But there's no way in Hell I'd ever buy a self-driving car, for more reasons than I could list in the space allotted."

You're welcome to list them across multiple posts, I'd be interested in seeing them.
(I'm not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely interested)



This recent Patent (owned by Google) is disturbing on several levels (who gets to set the limits of where your car will be "allowed" to go?):
http://patft.uspt.../8688306

I'm a big fan of Chaos Theory, which among other things could be thought of as the math behind Murphy's Law. And the more complex the system, the more subject to "Chaos" it becomes. In a mathematical sense chaos simply refers to "unpredictability," but when we're talking about cruising along at 70-80 mph in traffic then any degree of unpredictability is a big deal.

syndicate_51
not rated yet Jun 07, 2015
Yes Multivac please list them.

As for the disclosure on the accidents here is what will be required before Google can let all the specifics and police records / DOT records can be published.

All the other involved parties must agree to have their names disclosed for each occurrence. Given the vain nature of humankind many would probably be embarrassed to let the world know they made a simple error or that their driving ability was somehow in question. Not all but many, correction most people are like this.

So to avoid embarrassment. Those involved in the google incidents (should it prove to have been their fault) can simply say no to the release of the file to public record.

Should that be case if Google or any other agency release them to the public without consent well, that would be a legitimate lawsuit. Of course Google could use the same tactic to prevent the details of the incidents being released if it did not favor their narrative.
Multivac jr_
4 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
Also, in much of the country there are a lot of old, barely-running cars on the road. The State I live in currently doesn't even have smog testing(!) since too many vehicles would fail and the State's economy would crumble since a large proportion of its workforce could no longer get to work.

Would those people be given self-driving cars or would they be forced to pay for them (which they won't be able to)?

Then there's the usual concerns about hackers, power failures, computer glitches, and the rest. There are also issues to consider regarding the trustworthiness of the agencies in charge of administering the technical infrastructure and massive amount of data required; who owns that data? What about the data created by the sensors on "your" car?

And for that matter, is it even "your" car anymore? If it crashes in self-drive mode are you liable or is Google? (If I were a lawyer I'd be chompin' at the bit for these cars to hit the market...).
syndicate_51
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 07, 2015
Also using chaos theory to invalidate a machines capability to perform a humans job is rather counter intuitive. Given the unpredictability factor in each and every human. I would see a human as far more complex and chaotic than any self driving car. The trump, the human brain.

Examples of chaos in humans as applied against the self driving vehicle.

A human can decide to flagrantly disobey traffic laws.

A human can decide to impair themselves.

A human can let emotions affect their driving.

A human will use the traffic system much more inefficiently.

A human will have a slower reaction time.

A human can absolutely miscalculate the variables involved in a specific set of circumstance(s).

A human can choose to drive in a reckless manner.

Fact is humans are far more complex and hence chaotic than a program when it comes to controlling a vehicle.
Multivac jr_
3.5 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
And if the police want to talk to you, could they send a signal that commands your car to lock the doors and drive itself down to the Station? Could they send a signal that immobilizes ALL traffic (and if so, could it be hacked?)?

I'd also like to point out that for the cost of developing and deploying this technology for individual cars we could have quite likely built top-quality mass transit instead, at least in and around the larger urban centers.

Light rail is essentially "self-driving" for those who use it (and we already have the technology to implement it). But light rail, bike lanes, and focusing urban design on being more "walkable" (etc.) won't generate much revenue for Google or the auto manufacturers, hence no hype or fanfare for those rather boring, "pedestrian" approaches to transportation.

And one decent-sized X-class solar flare or large CME would brick the system (and all the cars that are part of it) until the satellites are replaced, if we're lucky.

syndicate_51
1 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
Light rail requires you to dig up and deepen your utilities to pass beneath them making the big dig seem like a walk in the park particularly throughout the region of a highly urbanized area although in the long run that would be much better. This should happen regardless of the state of self driving vehicles.

If the police have probable cause, and you refuse to stop, the minimum charge will be failure to stop for an officer of the law. So what you are advocating is people who wish to flee and break the law should be allowed to flee.

If a hacker wanted to cause damage there are far more effective means to do that than to make a massive number of automotive incidents. There are far better infrastructure options to try and compromise.

One large CME or X-class flare would brick all the systems anyways. You act as if only self driving cars would be affected by this when in fact the entirety of society would be affected regardless making this an idle argument.

Later post...
Multivac jr_
3 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
Fact is humans are far more complex and hence chaotic than a program when it comes to controlling a vehicle.


That's patently absurd (or merely disingenuous I suppose). The issue isn't one driver vs. one computer program. It's one human vs. a massive network that has to function properly 24/7 that's in turn dependent upon other massive, complex networks that also must function 24/7 thereby compounding the complexity exponentially.

But your non-solution is to subject them to the control of whoever codes the system (with the bugs and exploits and all the rest of the real-world friction that affects massive, complex networks). In that context, drivers are subject to the hidden variables of the system AND the mistakes of the humans who code it. I'm not that quick to trust others to make life/death decisions for me, but your mileage may vary.

Funny how you focus on only one point, though. I get the impression you have a personal vested interest in promoting this technology.
syndicate_51
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
Now that the 3 minutes have expired...

Ask anybody who owns a vehicle, that has been stolen, and then were able to shut it down remotely how great that is. Don't worry sir we know where your car is and it has shut down.

There are myriad of instances where such a system could be of immense benefit.

Phasing the cars in slowly and not forcing others to buy would be an option. Of course the would be changes in the structure of vehicle insurance to reflect this. I suspect having a self driving car would lower your premiums.

I would like to hear exactly what is so dastardly about every vehicle eventually using the traffic system to it's full potential (which is simply impossible with humans), without breaking the laws is such an appalling idea.
Multivac jr_
3 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
One large CME or X-class flare would brick all the systems anyways. You act as if only self driving cars would be affected by this when in fact the entirety of society would be affected regardless making this an idle argument.


OK, your zeal suggests you're shillin'.

Anyway, I said "decent-sized," not "catastrophic." A flare capable of trashing GPS and highly-sensitive networks might not be a civilization-ender but if it would stop all traffic for a few months then what could've been a surmountable incident may not be so in the context of crashing an automotive Internet. At least when the regular 'Net crashes or has a glitch, people don't die from sudden blunt-force trauma.
Multivac jr_
3 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
If the police have probable cause, and you refuse to stop, the minimum charge will be failure to stop for an officer of the law. So what you are advocating is people who wish to flee and break the law should be allowed to flee.


That's not what I wrote at all. But then you're not here for a discussion. Are you a Glasshole by any chance?
syndicate_51
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
Sorry to disappoint both myself and you but I have no investment in Google. Although I suspect having a decent market share in that earlier would have drastically changed my life.

Also I do not own Google glass. So you're wrong on both assumptions. Which is exactly what those qualify as.

First, you have drastically underestimated the complexity of the human brain. We have the internet and still the human brain is more complex. So your claim that there is more chaos in any computer than any human brain is simply put, fallacy. Each neuron has how many connections to it? And how many are there in a single human brain? Managing a city wide network of autonomous vehicles is a far cry from the exponential value involved in the human brain.

If GPS goes down (assuming the vehicles cannot run without it which is a huge assumption again) you could simply program a fail-safe to have a disconnected vehicle move over to a safe lane or area and park. Handles the blunt force trauma.
Multivac jr_
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
You don't have to have an investment to be shillin' for an agenda. Well, I guess it would technically be "toolin'" for an agenda in that case. But your denial was phrased like a lawyer who worked for Google might phrase it, which was pretty funny.

You're also mis-characterizing my arguments, probably to make them easier to address. But not easy enough, I guess; you clearly lack a basic understanding of (or are intentionally misrepresenting) how Chaos Theory applies to the context of a human brain vs. a network of networks. But since you're not here to discuss anything (and I was just intending to answer a question posed by someone else) I'm going to go do something useful (in real life) now.
syndicate_51
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2015
Given I wasn't the one who brought out the insults due to lack of mental ammunition I think your assertion now stands entirely baseless and unfounded.

The fleeing charge? Is what you implied without saying it.

I have twisted nothing. The bit about the hackers is the most likely weakness, again assuming that it is all controlled by a single centralized network which if it were not could quite effectively compartmentalize the issue. As well if the driving relied on the data from around the vehicle first with the centralization only optimizing traffic flow said hacker could at most make things very inconvenient, not catastrophic as you claim. Hackers already cause massive damage regardless and the traffic grid can already be hacked technically. So your hacker argument is handled.

You referred specifically with the unpredictability factor, you brought it up. Now tell how unpredictable can a human be vs. a computer? How often would the computer drink then drive?
TehDog
not rated yet Jun 07, 2015
@Multivac
I'm not sure why you linked that particular patent, it's about as general as a patent can be (best kind), as this quote shows;

"the vehicle may be any type of vehicle including, but not limited to, cars, trucks, motorcycles, busses, boats, airplanes, helicopters, lawnmowers, farm equipment, warehouse equipment, recreational vehicles, amusement park vehicles, trams, golf carts, trains, and trolleys. The vehicle may have one or more computers, such as computer 110 containing a processor 120, memory 130 and other components typically present in general purpose computers."

No details of either software or hardware, just a (as non-specific as possible) description of a system.
adam_russell_9615
5 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2015
My experience with other automated processes, equipment, and programs leads me to be sceptical of the safety of self-driving cars. The requirement to react to a range of possibilities FAR surpasses other automation that has up to now failed to live up to anything approaching perfection.
Osiris1
not rated yet Jun 12, 2015
Want to see the future? Go watch the "Terminator" series and think of that really bad bitch with the pink/purple liquid metal skin in YOUR driver seat. Or in the driver seat of that truck behind you, and she has a schedule to make her delivery ON TIME by whatever means and you are in her way.......KK-K-KRUNCH!! Or maybe she heard that you are gonna sell that car for a newer model and now she is suddenly...Christine!! Either way you/your family are dead meat and she is the grinder.

How about better. Why limit the tech to cars. How about mowers, mixers, earthmovers, tanks, intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear missile subs, refrigerators, furnaces...all the machines that help your lives to be better? Ever watch the movie: "Maximum Overdrive"? That is the one where EVERY MACHINE turns on all humanity with one motive......KILL!!

Maybe all directed by distributed 'skynet' program like gooooogal.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.