FILE – This May 13, 2014 file photo shows a Google self-driving Lexus at a Google event outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. (Eric Risberg/AP photo)
Today: After a report says Google’s driverless cars have been involved in three crashes in California, the company discloses the total number of collisions and says none have been the self-driving cars’ fault.
The Lead: Google says driverless cars not at fault in collisions
Google on Monday defended the safety of the driverless cars it is testing in California and laid out the automobile’s record of collisions after a report noted four collisions involving the developing technology since September.
The Associated Press reported Monday morning that three of the crashes in California in the past few months involved Google cars, based on an anonymous source. Google and Delphi, which was operating the other self-driving car implicated in the report, told AP that the collisions were minor and the fault of the other cars involved.
Later Monday, the director of Google’s driverless car program went into more detail on Google’s 1.7 million miles worth of self-driving car tests and the collisions in which the cars have been involved.
“If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car,” Chris Urmson wrote in a post on blogging platform Medium. “Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,”
Several companies are working on autonomous driving technology, and California has approved the testing of such technology. Rules for actual self-driving cars are still being considered, and the safety of the technology will be important in the debate.
John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog told Mercury News reporter Matt O’Brien that the best way for Google to develop trust is to publicly release the accident reports, which the Department of Motor Vehicles considers confidential.
“Google appears to be keeping a big lid on what’s going on,” Simpson said. “They should simply put out the reports they filed with the DMV.”
Without mentioning the AP report, Urmson said in his post that the collisions Google’s self-driving cars have been a part of are no different from the typical fender-benders that happen every day, and that autonomous car manufacturers hope to reduce if not eliminate.
“These experiences (and countless others) have only reinforced for us the challenges we all face on our roads today,” the Google executive wrote. “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.”
Google shares declined 0.5 percent to $535.70 Monday.
SV150 market report: Uber reportedly seeks $50B valuation
Silicon Valley stocks drifted lower Monday along with the rest of Wall Street as a young upstart seeks to barge into the top 10 valuations among Bay Area tech firms.
Reports that began Friday suggest that Uber is looking to raise funds at the second highest valuation in Silicon Valley tech history. The San Francisco ride-hailing app last raised venture capital in December at a $40 billion valuation and reports suggest the company is now looking for $50 billion, which would top the market capitalizations of all but nine public Silicon Valley tech firms. Uber would pass the market value of Yahoo and Salesforce, and have the highest valuation for a private Silicon Valley company outside of Facebook, which topped a $100 billion valuation in private auctions ahead of its initial public offering and currently has a market value of more than $200 billion.
Apple dropped 1 percent to $126.32 while announcing further initiatives to improve its environmental record. The Cupertino company is also seemingly a target of Australian authorities looking to establish new taxes on tech companies, an effort that is also reportedly targeting Netflix, which hit a new record intraday high Monday and closed with a 2.7 percent advance at $589.95. After filing suit against a former employee for leaking information to a reporter, Yahoo dropped 1.1 percent to $43.60 Monday.
Up: LendingClub, Netflix, VMware, Zynga, Tesla, Applied Materials, EA
Down: GoPro, Yelp, Salesforce, Yahoo, Apple
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies: Down 6.02, or 0.34 percent, to 1,756.08
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 9.98, or 0.2 percent, to 4,993.57
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 85.94, or 0.47 percent, to 18,105.17
And the widely watched Standard & Poor’s 500 index: Down 10.77, or 0.51 percent, to 2,105.33
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