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Google’s self-driving car in broadside collision after other car jumps red light

Stephan Otto
Sep 29, 2016 · 2 min read

One of Google’s self-driving cars has been involved in a collision at a red light. The autonomous Lexus SUV was involved in the worst recorded accident of a self-driving car yet.

The autonomous Lexus SUV was hit by a driver who ran a red light at the intersection of El Camino Rea and Phyllis Ave in Mountain View, California. The Lexus SUV was passing through a green light when the collision occurred.

The autonomous Lexus SUV was hit on the front and rear passenger side doors, caving in the doors and leading to the deployment of its airbags. As a result, the vehicle had to be towed away.

The Mountain View Police recorded that there were no fatalities or injuries from the collision and that the Google car was towed away on a flatbed.

The autonomous vehicles from Google have not been free from accidents. Multiple accidents have been reported involving impacts with various vehicles. The most common type of accident has been rear-ending as the autonomous vehicles drove slowly or were stationary at a junction.

The side impact that happened this past week is just one of a few accidents that have caused extensive damage to the expensively assembled test vehicles.

According to Google, the Lexus SUV at the time was in self-driving mode but had a person seated at the steering wheel. The autonomous vehicle was unable to avoid the collision despite automatically applying the brakes upon seeing the other car jump the red light. Even the efforts of the human behind the wheel to hit the brake were not enough to avoid the accident.

James Allen, a witness who happened to be at the crash site, reported that he was shocked to come across the accident. He sees an average of 30 to 40 Google self-driving cars each day but has never before come across one involved in an accident.

A spokesman for Google said that the autonomous Lexus SUV entered the intersection after the light was green for at least six seconds. Red light running is a leading cause of crashes in the urban setting. Thousands of these crashes happen each day on US roads. Human error is the cause of 94 percent of road crashes; it is the reason why Google are developing full self-driving technology to ensure that roads are safe.

Until today, the fleet of Google’s autonomous cars has covered more than 2 million miles and has been involved in two dozen accidents. Only one collision with a bus was attributed to the fault of the self-driving car.


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