News

Google's self-driving car in five-car crash

Google's self-driving cars have traveled 160,000 miles without incident, but that changed last week when one was behind a five-car collision on Charleston Road.

A Google spokesperson told the Voice that the robotic Toyota Prius was clearly being driven by a human during the trip when the accident occurred on Friday, Aug. 5.

A witness to the crash named Tiffany Winkelman reportedly said that Google's robotic Toyota Prius rear-ended a second Prius, which then hit the Honda Accord she was riding in, which pushed another Accord into the fifth car, another Prius. A Google spokesperson said he did not know how many cars were involved.

"We regret that a Google driver recently caused a minor accident, and we're grateful that no one was hurt," said a Google spokesperson in an email. "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."

The incident came to light when a reader of online blog Jalopnik sent in a photo of the car after the crash. It appears to have occurred behind Mountain View's Costco, near Google headquarters. The car is not shown with any major damage.

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"Since it involved 5 vehicles, we wanted to make sure there were no injuries and facilitate the exchange of names," said police spokeswoman Liz Wylie. "Essentially, it was five car fender-bender. No one reported any injuries and so the officer simply facilitated the exchange of names. No case was taken."

The self-driving Prius uses special sensors and cameras to navigate roads that have been pre-mapped. The goal of the project is to reduce the number of deaths caused by car accidents and to reduce traffic.

Google engineer Sebastian Thrun calls the setup "the perfect driving mechanism". The cars have driven all over local streets, along Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and even down Lombard Street in San Francisco.

Google claims the Google car was in between tests and that the accident was on a road that had not been mapped previously to allow it to drive autonomously on that section of street.

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Google's self-driving car in five-car crash

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Aug 8, 2011, 1:40 pm

Google's self-driving cars have traveled 160,000 miles without incident, but that changed last week when one was behind a five-car collision on Charleston Road.

A Google spokesperson told the Voice that the robotic Toyota Prius was clearly being driven by a human during the trip when the accident occurred on Friday, Aug. 5.

A witness to the crash named Tiffany Winkelman reportedly said that Google's robotic Toyota Prius rear-ended a second Prius, which then hit the Honda Accord she was riding in, which pushed another Accord into the fifth car, another Prius. A Google spokesperson said he did not know how many cars were involved.

"We regret that a Google driver recently caused a minor accident, and we're grateful that no one was hurt," said a Google spokesperson in an email. "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."

The incident came to light when a reader of online blog Jalopnik sent in a photo of the car after the crash. It appears to have occurred behind Mountain View's Costco, near Google headquarters. The car is not shown with any major damage.

"Since it involved 5 vehicles, we wanted to make sure there were no injuries and facilitate the exchange of names," said police spokeswoman Liz Wylie. "Essentially, it was five car fender-bender. No one reported any injuries and so the officer simply facilitated the exchange of names. No case was taken."

The self-driving Prius uses special sensors and cameras to navigate roads that have been pre-mapped. The goal of the project is to reduce the number of deaths caused by car accidents and to reduce traffic.

Google engineer Sebastian Thrun calls the setup "the perfect driving mechanism". The cars have driven all over local streets, along Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and even down Lombard Street in San Francisco.

Google claims the Google car was in between tests and that the accident was on a road that had not been mapped previously to allow it to drive autonomously on that section of street.

Comments

kathy
Sylvan Park
on Aug 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm
kathy, Sylvan Park
on Aug 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm
3 people like this

I would love to be rear ended by a car owned by Google.....can you imagine the settlement? I think I feel a severe case of whiplash coming on.....


Mark
Shoreline West
on Aug 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm
Mark, Shoreline West
on Aug 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm
3 people like this

I support Google, but judging by Google's use of "minor accident" and "fender benders", they appear to be hoping to minimize any accident-related financial judgments ... hey Google, it doesn't take much of a collision to cause a frightfully serious case of whiplash that could adversely affect the victim's spinal health for the rest of their life ... and SURRRRRRE, the accident occurred because the road on which the accident happened was not already "mapped"? Hmmmm, that road is only about a mile from Google --- the way they state it, it almost sounds as if the unmapped road is somewhere in the wilds of northern Wyoming!


Jarrett
another community
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm
Jarrett , another community
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm
3 people like this

How is this even news?? When I rear ended someone I don't recall a news crew. Maybe if the car was in "autodrive" then this would have been worth reading.


Nikki
Old Mountain View
on Aug 9, 2011 at 8:55 am
Nikki, Old Mountain View
on Aug 9, 2011 at 8:55 am
3 people like this

How many of us expected to gleefully find that the computer caused the accident, only to discover that it was typical human error close to home? Well, that really isn't news. The hidden story is that the car drove itself 160,000 miles without an accident.


JW
Monta Loma
on Aug 9, 2011 at 9:22 am
JW, Monta Loma
on Aug 9, 2011 at 9:22 am
3 people like this

I'm sorry, how many Prius cars were involved? Only in Palo Alto...


Paradize650
North Whisman
on Aug 9, 2011 at 9:37 am
Paradize650, North Whisman
on Aug 9, 2011 at 9:37 am
3 people like this

Ok, someone was driving it...why do we care? Because it's Google? If it was a robot driving the car, then maybe I would want to read more. Obviously the robot is a better driver!!!

P.S. JW...don't put Palo Alto down!!


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