In another example of what is starting to become a rather common occurrence, a Google self-driving car was involved in a collision this past Friday. However, in a marked departure from previous wrecks involving autonomous vehicles, this one left the high-tech ride seriously damaged. What's more, ABC 7 reports that the customized Lexus was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash, and that it was struck hard enough to injure the semi-redundant human inside.
Unlike the incident in February, also in Mountain View, when an autonomous vehicle sideswiped a moving Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bus, Google claims that this time the driver of the regular-old car was very much at fault. This all went down on El Camino Real near Google's Mountain View headquarters at roughly 1:30 p.m., and the search giant explained to KRON 4 that the other driver ran a red light and broadsided the Google ride.
The employee behind the steering wheel, who was on hand to take charge should things go poorly, was shaken up enough that the unnamed driver was sent to the hospital with a sore neck. However this, Google assures us, is no big deal.
“Thousands of crashes happen everyday on U.S. roads," reads a statement provided to KRON 4, "and red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes in the U.S. Human error plays a role in 94% of these crashes, which is why we’re developing fully self-driving technology to take human error out of the equation, and make our roads safer.”
Extra attention has perhaps been paid to wrecks involving self-driving vehicles following a fatal collision this past May. In that case, neither the Tesla driver nor the autopilot feature managed to brake in time to prevent the man's death. Following that tragedy, Tesla founder Elon Musk announced a shift in the way his cars will use radar to "see" the road — hopefully reducing the likelihood of similar deaths in the future.
As more and more companies begin to saturate our streets with human-optional vehicles — Ford, Lyft, and Uber are all competing with Google — crashes like Friday's are certain to become more common. However, as Tesla loves to point out, collisions are going to happen no matter what, and so far data suggests that self-driving vehicles are safer than old fashioned human-operated ones.