Last month, it came to light that 8 per cent of the self-driving cars on the road in California had been in collisions — though the state didn’t reveal any more detail than that. Now, it’s made a U-turn and published details about the crashes that involved the autonomous vehicles.
The Associated Press reveals that California state officials have released reports that describe six accidents involving self-driving cars, after the news agency argued that the Department of Motor Vehicles was unfairly withholding information. While officials had previously admitted that the crashes occurred, they claimed they couldn’t reveal details because of confidentiality clauses.
Now, that appears to have softened, with the state officials allowing the AP to see documents relating to the collisions . The news agency reports that “most of the cars were in self-driving mode when the accidents happened, and the other driver caused the accident.” Perhaps most importantly, “[n]one of the crashes were serious enough to injure the person the state requires to sit behind the wheel, and the reports say none of the people in the other cars were treated for injuries either.” The crashes involved cars developed by both Google and Delphi Automotive.
For what it’s worth, that tallies with what Google has previously claimed about collisions involving its cars. In a blog post, Chris Urmson, who heads up the driverless car program, admitted that Google’s cars have been involved in eight collisions, but emphasised that none of the accidents its cars were involved with were the fault of its self-driving vehicles.
The actual crashes aside, all of this is good news, of course. But it highlight the need for transparency when it comes to the autonomous cars that are increasingly using public roads.