News

Self-driving car struck by red-light runner

 

One of Google's self-driving cars was involved in a collision Friday after a driver ran a red light, slamming into the autonomous vehicle as it passed through a busy intersection in Mountain View.

Police confirmed that the accident happened around 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the intersection of Phyllis Avenue and El Camino Real. Nobody was hurt in the accident, police said.

A statement released by Google said that the company's self-driving car was heading northbound on Phyllis Avenue and entered the intersection at El Camino Real, where it was struck from the right side by a vehicle traveling westbound. The light had been green for six seconds prior to the Google car entering the intersection, according to the statement.

Police could not able to provide a description of the vehicle that had collided with the autonomous vehicle.

Google's self-driving cars have been involved in more than a dozen accidents, and all but one appears to be the fault of human error rather than flaws in the autonomous vehicle technology. In February, one of Google's self-driving cars appeared to be responsible for a crash when it was side-swiped by a bus trying to merge into a traffic lane.

Google's monthly report on the self-driving car project for August showed that the last accident in Mountain View was on Aug. 8. The company's vehicle was stopped on eastbound California Street waiting for pedestrians to cross at Rengstorff Avenue when another vehicle approached from behind and rear-ended the self-driving car at about 4 miles per hour, according to the report.

Google's fleet of 58 self-driving cars traveled a total of just under 2 million miles in "autonomous mode" as of last month, according to the report.

Comments

24 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Was the red light running driver charged or cited? Or do they get a freebie because the victim was self-driving?


17 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2016 at 10:29 pm

From my experience, these Google cars take much longer to start when the light turns green than other traffic. The red light runner must have been chancing it big time, or distracted.


16 people like this
Posted by Devesh
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 26, 2016 at 10:06 am

The light had been green for six seconds for the Google car. It's unlikely that the red light runner was chancing a yellow. My guess is that driver was either distracted or impaired.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2016 at 10:48 am

News photos of the crash aftermath shows a wrecked Interstate Batteries delivery van next to the wrecked Google car


9 people like this
Posted by It's an "anger" area
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2016 at 10:52 am

That can be one of those "angry" intersections. There are a lot of flaring tempers and aggressive driving as people try to cue up for the left onto 237 in the morning. Last week I saw a woman in a dark blue BMW SUV almost rear end one guy she was trying to rush to cut off, then she almost caused an accident accelerating at top speed once there were two turn lanes. Horns and flipping birds, yet just another morning. The afternoon is bad too as 85 drivers avoid the 85 on ramp from 237, come into town and make a u-turn at Phyllis in order to get onto 85 from ECR.
Since they are trying to shortcut it, the nature of their driving is usually fast and aggressive; almost race-like, which feeds the anger in the altercations and driving behavior.


22 people like this
Posted by The future is here
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 26, 2016 at 12:04 pm

El Camino Real has become an extremely hazardous road, in no small part this is a direct result of the impact the numerous construction projects along ECR are having on the flow of traffic, every day. And when these construction projects are combined with the increased traffic that comes with fall classes back in session, it's a disaster.

Look at El Camino Real any weekday from say, El Monte to 237 - either direction - it's ridiculously bad traffic. Look at the construction projects and how, daily, one and often times two lanes of ECR are blocked for these construction projects, which not only exacerbates the problem on ECR, but also sends more than a few aggravated drivers onto small residential streets, seeking relief from the congestion on ECR.

This is just foreshadowing of things to come if VTA has its way with it's dedicated lane bus only lane grab of El Camino Real.


16 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm

It's funny that this non-story (driver runs red light, causes an accident) only becomes a story because the "victim" is a self-driving car.


26 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Why is a driver running a red light and causing injuries to another driver a non-story? And collisions caused by blatant reckless driving are not accidents.

I think the collisions should be reported in the news, including the name of the perp and what charges or citations are issued by the police. Traffic violence like this is at least a big a problem as any other kind of violence in this city. Sweeping it under the carpet doesn't help to solve the problem.


16 people like this
Posted by Confirmed
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm

We now have proof that the status quo on ECR is untenable. With increased automobile use and no way to add lanes, the best solution is to dedicate the center lanes to mass transit. The BRT solution will allow many more people to utilize ECR than is possible today.

I'm so glad that MV voted it's support for VTA's center bus lane proposal. It's good to live in an enlightened city like Mountain View.


16 people like this
Posted by Wait, what?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm

What I REALLY like about the self drivers is that they will tell you the exact story about what happened from their data history, even if they are at fault. If you're at fault and you hit one, man you're toast, don't even try to fight it unless you know the self driver was in the wrong. How likely is that? So far about 10% from the accident reports. But probably lower since a system wide update was made after that one time.

I would imagine many have video recordings as well. Thinking more, they may act as tools to provide evidence in other accidents or just eyes on the road to record stuff. The cars may be the tool we use to finally rid the roads of the aggressive drivers! We need more and one in my driveway :)


9 people like this
Posted by Cars
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 27, 2016 at 5:48 am

I agree with another comment that Google's self driving cars don't behave like most drivers. They are slow to start at intersections, start stopping sooner and are sometimes awkward when switching lanes. Maybe they will notice and get autonomously frustrated too as they begin to encounter each other more often. The other day I saw six at one intersection: one passing two others on the right, one approaching from the left, and one from the opposite direction.


17 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 27, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Google's self driving cars not behaving like most drivers is a good thing IMHO.


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2016 at 9:39 pm

I assume self-driving cars are programmed to recognize red-lights & siren, had that red-light runner been an emergency vehicle. Or is that what the safety-driver is for?


5 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:47 am

Good point Musical.

I imagine that emergency vehicles drivers are also "programmed" to deal with Google cars, just like the rest of us.

:)


13 people like this
Posted by Uh-huh
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2016 at 3:15 pm

The Google cars do in fact respond to emergency vehicles...all the time, per programming, unlike human drivers.


5 people like this
Posted by I_Got_mine
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 28, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Will the robotic car driving software start shouting " WHIPLASH, WHIPLASH " and sue for damages against the red light runner? With all those cameras and sensors it would be a slam dunk case for the " robot " involved.

Disclaimer: I worked on AGVs and robot sensors for a living.

My personal opinion: We built test tracks and obstacle portions to test our AGVs before delivery. Google must do the same. You get a half dozen government agencies involved using public Highways to test your vehicle and software. Google is looking at a HUGE lawsuit if one of their AGVs actually kill someone.


10 people like this
Posted by Uh-huh
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm

I would imagine Google has gleaned the brightest and best minds for all aspects of their program including the legal side(again, with best of breed lawyers)for their programs and laugh at any backseat drivers / experts chiming in and having zero internal knowledge of how Google does things, like how they used test tracks in the early phases, prior to using public roads.


10 people like this
Posted by Christina Oran
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Can we all agree to stop calling every traffic collision an "accident"? This one certainly wasn't.

Accident: tree branch breaks due to weather (wind, snow, etc) and falls onto a moving car.

Distracted driver runs red light? NOT an accident.


11 people like this
Posted by @Christina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 10:44 am

No. That's your pet peeve to deal with. They'll continue to be referred to as accidents even if they do not meet the exact definition.


7 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Darin is a registered user.

ac·ci·dent /ˈaksədənt/ noun 1. an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.

Unfortunate? Check.
Unexpected or unintentional? Check.
Damage or injury? Check.


5 people like this
Posted by What was the intent?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm

If the redlight runner decided to run the light and tried to hit the car, that would not be an accident. If the red light runner ACCIDENTALLY ran the red light, or accidentally hit the car, even though his actions increased that chance, it's still a textbook accident. So it's decided, we're going to keep calling events like this accidents.


5 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 4:04 pm

This red light runner either did it deliberately or failed to pay attention to the yellow and then the red. Negligence does not make this an accident in the true sense. It's not luck.

I find i fascinating when people try to defend these irresponsible drivers. Shame!


5 people like this
Posted by MVNeighbor
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 5:39 pm

These idiotic self-driving cars still haven't learned their lessons after being pulled over and obstructing traffic- they are still limiting their speeds to 25 mph in the 35 mph minimum zone. I see this a lot up and down Middlefield Road and when everyone sees these things, all cars immediately change to the fast lane to avoid these idiots. Their commuter buses are going through stop light routes that favor their sides by staying green the entire time, while the other lanes turning left take forever (travel to Tyrella/Middlefield to figure out what I mean). I think there is a conspiracy here involving Google and their special "privileges" to accommodate these minor inconveniences but leave everyone else hanging.


14 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2016 at 10:59 pm


OK, now that there is an alternative to driving, I think the people
of CA need to be a bit more aggressive with bad drivers, weavers,
speeders, people who cause accidents or just continually annoy
other drivers ....

... tell the bad drivers that they can drive, but they must buy a
self-driving car and not take the wheel unless it is absolutely
necessary.

Wouldn't it be nice to force all the bad, rude, incompetent drivers
to sit quietly in a nice little self-driving car so they cannot cause
problems for everyone else?

This would be a great way to fund the first few generations of
these cars ... if you are a bad driver, then you need to buy a
self-driving car and not drive on the road with everyone else
except as a passive passenger.


14 people like this
Posted by Bad
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2016 at 2:29 am

MVNeighbor wrote this: "These idiotic self-driving cars still haven't learned their lessons after being pulled over and obstructing traffic- they are still limiting their speeds to 25 mph in the 35 mph minimum zone."

A "35 mph minimum zone????" No wonder we have "accidents". Drivers like this joker does not even understand basic traffic safety laws. I'll bet his front bumper is all smashed up.


10 people like this
Posted by Good
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2016 at 5:48 am

I'm glad the s.d. cars are affecting the "I need to drive fast all the time" crowd.
They're the #1 problem on the road.


3 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Notice it is no longer called a "smart car".
Some people just should not drive. Take a cab, take the train, take the bus. Or drive your car!


5 people like this
Posted by Driver at Fault
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2016 at 2:52 pm

The human driver was at a fault, but I wonder if a human driver in the place of the
Google car would have avoided a collision. Also I wonder if the human driver might have
been teed off and hit the Google car on purpose! They are rather obnoxious.


5 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Robyn, I'm confused. I've only heard "smart car" or "Smart Car" used to refer to a specific brand of human-driven car:
Web Link)

I haven't heard the term used to refer to self-driving cars.


3 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Here's another attempt at the URL...
Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by @Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Nobody else has ever heard them called Smart cars either, except for Robyn's cats.


7 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2016 at 11:23 pm

Notice how they are no longer called cats.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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