Have you ever wondered if Google's driverless-car project has resulted in any accidents (or worse yet - injuries and fatalities)? The company has realised people may be asking these sort of questions, so it wants to begin reporting all incidents.
The news will probably come as a shock, considering Google co-founder Sergey Brin confirmed on Wednesday during a shareholder's meeting that Google won't release accident reports involving its driverless cars in order to protect the privacy of the other motorists in the crashes. Brin's defense came in response to a critic who questioned various accidents over years of testing.
Google has now launched a dedicated website that not only details all the latest and prior accidents, but also gives illustrations and examples of how its driverless cars are able to adapt to traffic situations. There's a forum included as well, so people can provide community feedback.
Where can you find Google's car accident reports?
Go to the following website to access Google's accident reports:
The site also has informaton about how Google's driverless cars work, where the cars have travelled since 2009, and general facts. Keep in mind all human-driver details have still been redacted from the website and reports.
How often will Google release these reports?
Google will detail accidents on a monthly basis.
In the first report, for May, Google has included every accident that its driverless cars have been involved in since the beginning of the driverless-car project. None of which, Google said, were the driverless-cars' fault.
What are the most interesting bits from the May report?
Google said that - in the last six years - its driverless cars have been involved in 12 minor accidents during more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving combined: "Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident," the company stressed in its report.
The accidents we're mostly related to the driverless cars getting rear-ended, sideswiped, or hit after another vehicle failed to follow basic traffic safety laws, such as stopping at a stop sign, according to Google.
You can read the entire report here.
Anything else you need to know about the accidents?
In a blog post, Chris Urmson, Google's driverless-car project lead, emphasised again that every accident was the fault of other drivers: "Rear-end crashes are the most frequent accidents in America, and often there's little the driver in front can do to avoid getting hit," wrote Urmson.
"We've been hit from behind seven times, mainly at traffic lights but also on the freeway. We've also been side-swiped a couple of times and hit by a car rolling through a stop sign," he added, before noting that other drivers often appeared to be distracted. "Our safety drivers routinely see people weaving in and out of their lanes... We've spotted people reading books, and even one playing a trumpet."
What's next for Google's driverless cars?
Google will begin testing driverless cars on public roads in Mountain View this summer. The tests will start small, with drivers present and ready to take the wheel when necessary. The cars will also be limited to going 25 miles per hour or slower.