In 2009, Google’s first autonomous vehicles (AVs) appeared on American roads. Google promised that they would be driven better as there would be no room for human error.
Since their arrival years ago, Google AVs have driven more than 1.3 million miles. The accident rate seemed to prove Google’s philosophy correct, with only 17 accidents in seven years that were caused by human error – until now.
AV crashes into bus
In February 2016, a Google Lexus AV crashed into a bus, and this accident is being blamed on the on-board computer. The AV wanted to merge into flowing traffic and simply assumed the bus on its left side would give way. It did not, and the result was a 2mph accident. Google made a full report of the accident and was quick to label the crash a “classic example” of road negotiation.
However, this minor crash could now cause major problems for Google.
Safety concerns growing
There has always been some scepticism concerning autonomous cars, but this crash has given many the green light to voice those concerns. Safety is not the only concern many people have about driverless cars. There are also fears that the introduction of AVs could cause redundancies, especially for HGV drivers.
Even people in favour of AVs acknowledge that humans could lose out to computers. In fact, according to the BBC, US Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx admits that this technology could put people out of work.
However, this crash could slow down the advancement of AVs being commercially available. It has highlighted that driverless cars simply cannot apply the same logic to traffic conditions as humans can. If a situation goes off script, an AV might not know what to do. One thing that will help AV is the Vehicle Tracking system installed to allow the company or driver to know exactly where the car is and the performance that it is giving. This is only possible through certain companies for example through websites like www.vehicle-accessories.net/vehicle-tracking/.
Now that the technology has to be tweaked, will that add more cost to AVs? There have been no hints as to how much it would set you back to own Google’s self-driving car, but it’s sure to be expensive. Unfortunately, most things concerning motoring are expensive. Google will now have to reassure an already doubtful public that driverless cars are safe, but has this crash dented Google’s influence?