On Thursday, Google revealed that three of its employees, who had been riding in one of its driverless Lexus cars, were taken to hospital with minor whiplash after a car rear-ended it at traffic lights in Mountain View, California, earlier this month.
Self-driving cars have raised fears that the technology would make mistakes, resulting in injuries or road deaths. However, Urmson said the statistics were starting to show that Google’s cars were significantly safer than human drivers.
In the most recent collision, the car had failed to break at traffic lights, and had hit the back of the Google vehicle at 17 miles per hour.
“Other drivers have hit us 14 times since the start of our project in 2009 (including 11 rear-enders), and not once has the self-driving car been the cause of the collision,” Urmson wrote.
“so what did you do before self-driving cars?” “we just drove ’em ourselves!” “wow, no one died that way?” “oh no, millions of people died”
— gregory erskine (@cat_beltane)
April 15, 2015
“Instead, the clear theme is human error and inattention. We’ll take all this as a signal that we’re starting to compare favorably with human drivers.
“Our self-driving cars can pay attention to hundreds of objects at once, 360 degrees in all directions, and they never get tired, irritable or distracted.”
The car in question was a Lexus SUV. Last year, Google said a more compact, bubble-shaped vehicle would hit the roads for testing this year.