We’ve been following Google’s awesome self-driving car since the search giant broke the news last fall that it was developing an autonomous, robotic car that drives itself. By using sensors and specially designed artificial intelligence software, the automated cars are supposed to sense objects around them to be able to avoid them, thus making the ride safer and more fuel efficient. But last week, one of Google‘s self-driving cars rear ended another Prius, which set off a chain reaction, ultimately involving a total of five vehicles. As it turns out, a person was manually driving the car, but still — what does this mean for self-driving cars? The accident, and the questions surrounding it, certainly make you wonder if it’s possible for robot vehicles to actually be safer conventional driving.
During every Google test drive of one of the self-driving cars, there is a person behind the wheel who can take control if something goes wrong. Google told Business Insider that when this car crashed, it was being manually driven by a person. But as Jalopnik points out, if there’s always a person in the car, how would we really know if it was being manually driven or not?
Autonomous cars are still years away from mass production, but Google is steadily pushing forward to get more of their self-driving cars on the road. Just recently, they convinced the state of Nevada to grant self-driving licenses so they can put the cars on Nevada freeways. While the end goal is to improve the driving experience and make personal vehicle transportation safer and more efficient, some also see the technology as the ultimate driving distraction. It will take a huge conceptual leap forward before people accept robot cars as the norm, and any errors along the way — like this crash — are bound to make us even more wary.