We have been bringing you lots of news lately on the developments in driverless cars from companies such as Google, Porsche, or even new competitors in China. So we were a little nervous for Google when we heard one of their Priuses had gotten itself into an accident. Google is claiming the crash was caused by the driverless fleet car when a human was manually driving it, but some new details have surfaced that make us question that statement. The story broke when a Jalopnik reader sent in a photo of the accident not far from Google’s Mountain View headquarters, but the picture, showing a Google Prius driver leaning over his car, the driver of the Prius rear-ended by the Google car on her cell phone, and a police officer, didn’t seem to tell the whole story. “Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car,” said Google of the accident. But does that ring true?
What the photo didn’t show was that not one but four cars were damaged by the Google Prius. A five-car accident might be described as a bit more than a fender bender, and according to NBC San Francisco, an eye witness described the accident this way: “Google’s Prius struck another Prius, which then struck her Honda Accord that her brother was driving. That Accord then struck another Honda Accord, and the second Accord hit a separate, non-Google-owned Prius.” The Google Prius must have been driving pretty quickly to cause that kind of chain reaction. That sounds to us like automated driving, which navigates traffic obstacles much more quickly than a human would. What do you think? Was the car at fault or the driver? And will driverless cars need black boxes to record driving data so the law knows when to hold a driver accountable and when to recall a vehicle for glitches? We’re wondering if the driver stepped in to prevent an accident and ended up causing one instead due to his laggy human 500-milisecond reaction time. Maybe Google should slow down that famed reaction time of their robo-drivers if they want to avoid more bad press like this that could prevent them from achieving driverless world domination.
Photo courtesy of Jalopnik