One of Google’s driverless cars was recently involved in a major accident. According to a report on Business Insider.com, the crash occurred in Mountain View when a commercial van with a human driver ran a red light and crashed into Google’s autonomous Lexus. While no one involved, this was one of the worst car crashes of the company’s self-driving cars. Initial reports, however, reveal that the crash was caused by human error rather than a malfunction of the Google car.
Google and other companies such as Tesla have invested in driverless technologies. They all insist that these technologies are safe. But they face a perception problem, justifiably so, which they must overcome. It is not just at the perception level that there is a problem. Recent crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot including two fatal crashes raise the level of concern about the safety of these groundbreaking technologies. Many automakers are pushing to fully monetize their self-driving initiatives while trying to overcome the stigma that self-driving cars are unsafe.
Other Google Crashes
This is not the first time that one of Google’s autonomous vehicles has been involved in a traffic accident. Earlier this year, a Google-branded driverless car was involved in its first and only at-fault accident when it struck a public transit bus while attempting to navigate around a sandbag in the middle of the roadway. Google has defended its vehicle after the most recent crash saying that “thousands of crashes happen everyday on U.S. roads” and that human error plays a role in 94 percent of these crashes. Google, Tesla and other corporations claim that they are developing driverless technology to make our roads safer.
Are We Ready for Driverless Cars?
The question is: Are these cars ready to be on our roadways? It’s true that the number of crashes have been far fewer when you compare with cars driven by humans. However, it should also be noted that these cars have not been put on the market. They are only being tested at this point. So, there are also far fewer of these autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles on our roadways.
The Tesla crashes should prove as a serious warning to government regulators and developers of driverless technology, said Brian Chase, senior partner at the Newport Beach personal injury law firm of Bisnar Chase.
“It is wonderful if driverless cars could come in and prevent traffic accident deaths and injuries,” he said. “But it appears that they are not quite there with the technology. To put the cart before the horse here and put these vehicles on the road before properly testing and vetting them, would be a grave mistake. Consumers are not laboratory rats, nor should they be, for the auto industry. The technology must be deemed safe and tested multiple times before we put people in driverless vehicles.”