Self-Driving Cars’ Worst Accident Yet

Google’s Self-Driving Car Involved in Worst Accident Yet

Are We Ready for the Future?

In its monthly report on self-driving car accidents issued on October 6th, Google publicized that one of its autonomous vehicles was involved in its worst accident yet.  The accident was caused when a driver of a van ran a red light and struck the passenger side of the self-driving SUV. The vehicle was operating in autonomous mode when the crash occurred.  Per the company’s requirements, a human driver was inside the vehicle during the collision.  The human operator inside the vehicle was sent to the hospital for medical attention. Since the driver of the second, non-autonomous vehicle was found to be at fault, it’s still unclear what could have been done to avoid the crash, especially because it was caused from human error.

“Our light was green for at least six seconds before our car entered the intersection,” a Google spokesperson said.

Overall, Google’s self-driving cars have not been involved in many accidents, and there is only one recorded as the fault of Google’s self-driving car.  In February one of Google’s cars collided with a public transit bus while trying to maneuver around a sandbag in the road. The accident report stated the car was “traveling at less than 2 mph” and struck the bus as it passed on its left side.” The car was left in autonomous mode despite a safety driver sitting in the driver’s seat, because the safety driver believed that the public transit bus would come to a stop or at least slow to allow the car to safely reenter the lane. The accident didn’t cause any injuries. Other than this crash, Google has reported a variety of fender benders in its monthly reports on its autonomous vehicle program, but all other small accidents reported have not been the fault of the self-driving vehicle.

The Road Ahead for Google

Regarding the accident caused by Google’s self-driving vehicle in February, Google stated that its computers had reviewed the incident and engineers changed the software that governs the cars to understand that buses may not be as inclined to yield as other vehicles.

Regardless of the February setback, Google has been rapidly adding improvement to its self-driving cars.

“Our goal is to teach our cars to honk like a patient, seasoned driver. As we become more experienced honkers, we hope our cars will also be able to predict how other drivers respond to a beep in different situation,” states Google.

The latest update in its self-driving car report adds that the cars are being taught different types of honks depending upon situations. For instance, if another vehicle is slowly reversing towards the car, then the car will emit two short, quieter beeps. In situations of urgency, one loud sustained blare. Google’s aim is to make roads safer by removing human error which accounts for 94% of crashes.

Self-Driving Cars  – An Extension of Today’s Driving Aids

Today we are enjoying the luxury and helpfulness of driving aids: Lane keeping systems work to keep you in your lane, and prevent you from drifting out.  Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is an enhancement of conventional cruise control that adjusts the speed of your car to match the speed of the car in front of you. Automatic emergency braking uses sensors to track cars ahead and automatically slam on the brakes in an approaching crash.   These are all examples of the many driver aids currently in existence that provide helpful driving controls to make vehicles safer and driving more convenient.  In many ways self-driving cars are a logical extension of these current driving aids.

Cars that can drive themselves have become a reality and are starting to appear on the road. Google’s self-driving cars are the most well-known, but BMW, Audi and several other car makers are also developing models. Driverless cars are a highly pursued category, with foremost attention from Tesla, Google, Uber and nuTonomy.

Self-Driving Car Regulations

A self-driving car is adept at sensing its surroundings and piloting without human input. To achieve this task, each self-driving vehicle will have a GPS unit, navigation system, and laser rangefinders, radar, and video sensors.  The vehicle uses positional information from the GPS and the navigation system to pinpoint itself and sensor data to refine its location estimate as well as to build a three-dimensional image of its environment. The Obama administration’s proposed guidelines for self-driving cars, include 15 benchmarks automakers will need to meet before their autonomous vehicles can hit the road.  The automakers will have to show how their virtual drivers will function, what happens if they fail and how they’ve been tested.

Future Accidents – Who Will Pay? 

Surprising Facts about Pennsylvania No-Fault Insurance

You might think that if you are hit by a Google self-driving car in Pennsylvania, you will be well covered with Google’s insurance. The truth is, Pennsylvania is a “NO-FAULT” state regarding car accident insurance and your ability to sue is determined by YOUR choice of FULL TORT or LIMITED TORT insurance. Click here for Pennsylvania Car Insurance Advice from Philadelphia Accident Lawyers.


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