“A million miles and no accidents …” Google blows the horn of its self-driving cars

Google has announced that over the past six years of testing, its self-driven cars have covered 1 million miles without causing any serious crashes or collisions. They have, however, been involved in 11 minor accidents.

According to the company, these incidents caused light damage and no injury – and in any case were the other driver’s fault.

Google’s cars had been hit from behind seven times, mainly at traffic lights, with a majority of the accidents being on city streets as opposed to freeways. Being hit from behind is the most frequent type of road accident in America.

The cars have also been side-swiped, and hit by another vehicle rolling through a stop sign.

Google said it had a "detailed review process and try to learn something from each incident, even if it hasn’t been our fault".

Google’s self-driving cars average around 10,000 each week, similar to the distance logged by typical American drivers in a year, and are driving mostly on city streets.

Chris Urmson, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who is leading Google’s autonomous automobile programme, said: "If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car. Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.

"We’ll continue to drive thousands of miles so we can all better understand the all-too-common incidents that cause many of us to dislike day-to-day driving ,  and we’ll continue to work hard on developing a self-driving car that can shoulder this burden for us."

About 33,000 people die on America’s roads each year and driver error is typically blamed for 94% of crashes.

Image: A Lexus RX450h retrofitted by Google for its driverless car fleet (Wikimedia Commons)

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