Since the majority of serious car accidents are caused by human error, it has been presumed that the self-driving cars of the future will mean a reduction in car accidents. However, Google is admitting that even its cutting-edge fleet of autonomous vehicles isn’t perfect.
After an investigation by the Associated Press, Google reported earlier this month that its driverless vehicles have been involved in 11 accidents since being released in 2006. Google says that many of the accidents were caused by other drivers, and none involved injuries, but the accident rate is still high.
According to a Time.com article, the vehicles have driven a total of 1.7 million miles, which results in an accident rate of about 6.5 per million miles traveled. Time reported that the accident rate for property-damage-only accidents involving passenger vehicles nationwide was 2.8 per million miles traveled 2012.
So that begs the question: Are self-driving cars really going to be any safer?
Google seems to think so, and is working around the clock to bring autonomous vehicles to the market before its competitors, which include Uber as well as existing car manufacturers.
In its report on the accidents earlier this month, Google explained the fleet’s seemingly high accident rate could be affected by the fact that many fender benders like the ones involving the self-driving cars are not reported. Additionally, Google said that drivers in other vehicles contributed to many of the accidents.
Google also said that human error caused all of the accidents, which suggests that technology can only do so much to keep people safe on the roads. For example, Google admitted that its self-driving cars can’t always “overcome the realities of speed and distance.”
Time.com reported that self-driving cars are expected to roll out nationwide by 2020. Only time will tell if they are as effective at reducing serious car accidents as everyone hopes.