Google's Self Driving Cars Are Getting Into Accidents Because Google Is Giving Society Too Much Credit
Seattle Times- Google Inc. revealed Monday that its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago.
The company released the number after The Associated Press reported that Google had notified California of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September, when reporting all accidents became a legal requirement as part of the permits for the tests on public roads.
The director of Google’s self-driving car project wrote in a web post that all 11 accidents were minor — “light damage, no injuries” — and happened over 1.7 million miles of testing, including nearly 1 million miles in self-driving mode.
“Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” wrote Google’s Chris Urmson.
“Cause” is a key word: Like Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier which suffered an accident in October with one of its two test cars, Google says it was not at fault.
The Google cars have been rear-ended seven times, often when stopped “but also on the freeway,” wrote Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program. In other collisions, the cars were side-swiped or “hit by a car rolling through a stop sign.” Eight of the 11 collisions were on city streets.
Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say that this isn't terribly surprising news. The reason why I find it surprising, however, may take you back a little. I have total faith in the technology, Google can do anything. Technology is a wonderful thing. A decade ago when I was playing on my Nokia I would have told you there was no chance that the last thing I would use my phone for is actually making a phone call. I am sure Google's self driving cars work just fine. I'm sure they did an A+ job job of navigating the Google training course. I'm sure they would have no problem maneuvering the euphoric roads of Pleasantville, USA.
Therein lies the problem. This ain't a movie dawg. The streets are mean out there. Like your parents first told you when you got your license, "it's not YOU that I am worried about it". Google may have the smartest cars in the planet, but that doesn't matter all that much when they are surrounded by idiots. There is just no way to atone for the stupidity of drivers on the road, especially if you have never driven like a dumbass yourself. As human beings we are able to think like the worst type of driver on the road because at one point or another we have been the worst driver on the road. We know to expect the unexpected. It's like in iRobot when Will Smith doesn't trust robots because their actions are too calculated except pretty much exactly the opposite. It's not that Google cars are too programmed for society, it's that society is too stupid for programming.
I'm sure Google's cars follow every rule of the road. The fact that they are the only cars doing so leaves them extremely accident prone. Look where a majority of these accidents took place. City streets. The place where people historically drive like assholes and are faced with making more decisions than usual. That is not a coincidence. I love the innovation that Google, as wells others, have introduced into our society. Especially when it makes my life easier. Unfortunately they may just have to stay out of the driving game, because the very people that the Google smart cars are created for are the same people that make the technology far more detrimental than helpful.
P.S. Of course we could always just flip it and reverse it and tell all woman and Asians to put their keys in the bowl...for the rest of eternity. Probably more effective.