Apparently, Google drivers had to intervene and stop their self-driving cars from crashing 13 times in California between September 2014 and November 2015. Oops…
According to the BBC, a consumer watchdog report revealed that Google operated its cars in ‘autonomous mode’ for 424,331 miles in the last 15 months. During that time there were 272 cases when the cars’ own software detected a ‘failure’ that caused it to alert the driver and hand over control.
However, there were also 69 other frightening incidents when the drivers were forced to seize control without being prompted to do so, because they perceived there was a safety threat, which in our eyes is one time too many.
Worst of all, computer simulations carried out afterwards show that 13 of these driver-initiated ‘interventions’ prevented a crash, while another 11 would have been serious.
The tech giant wants to build cars with no steering wheel or other manual controls, but the California-based Consumer Watchdog claims that the company’s own data undermines their case – and as awesome as self driving cars would be, we have to agree.
Privacy project director John Simpson asked:
How can Google propose a car with no steering wheel, brakes or driver? Release of the disengagement report was a positive step, but Google should also make public any video it has of the disengagement incidents, as well as any technical data it collected, so we can fully understand what went wrong as it uses our public roads as its private laboratory.
Last year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles published draft proposals which stated that fully licensed drivers would have to be behind the wheels and pedals of autonomous cars sold to the public.
But the newly appointed president of Google’s self-driving car project, John Krafcik, said earlier this week that human intervention could actually make a crash more likely, which looking at this data doesn’t seem entirely accurate, in our opinion.
Despite the news that the tech hasn’t been perfected yet, it does seem like we’re heading in the right direction, with the cars stopping most of the time.
Unfortunately, it seems it may be a few years yet before the dream of fully automated cars is a reality.