Google’s self-driving car was involved in an accident earlier this month. It appears that an inattentive driver crashed into the back of a Lexus RX450h equipped with special sensors and software. The Google car was waiting at a traffic light in Mountain View, California when the accident occurred. The driver was taken to a local hospital to get checked out. This was the first time a Google car was involved in a traffic accident that resulted in injuries. Since 2009, when Google started developing their self-driving car, there has been 14 accidents, with 11 of them being rear-end collisions. It should be noted that none of the accidents were the fault of the Google car.
The Google car can navigate through complex traffic conditions including unexpected bicyclists veering onto the road and construction zones that alter the direction of the road. The car automatically adjusts speed and trajectory to avoid accidents. Here’s a video of a Google test driver taking the car out for a demonstration:
Recently, Google started testing a car they designed on the roads near Google’s headquarters. It has a bubble-shaped appearance and is compact. This vehicle is vastly different from the Lexus model. It would be immediately recognizable on the highway and could cause other drivers to take their eyes off the road. The bubble car features a sensor cap on the hood that contains lasers, radars, and cameras to detect objects in all directions. The car runs on electric batteries and features back-up systems for steering, braking, and computing.
There probably won’t be that many buyers that like the appearance of this car. Google has acknowledged that it prefers to partner with automobile manufacturers rather than develop their own line of self-driving cars. Besides the Lexus, Google converted a Toyota Prius into a self-driving vehicle in the past.
The best places to catch a glimpse of the Google self-driving car is near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California and in Austin, Texas.
Several automobile manufacturers are also developing self-driving vehicles. One example is the robotic Volkswagen Passat seen in 2009 at the campus of Stanford University. Mercedes has developed a self-driving car as well. It is equipped with Autobahn Pilot, a system that allows for hands-free driving and automatic overtaking of other vehicles on the road. Check it out here:
The Autobahn Pilot system is installed in the S-Class W222 and the E-Class W212. It uses radar sensors and a twin-camera system that sees in 3D to navigate on the highway. These vehicles are expected to be on the market in two years, which is sooner than Google’s self-driving car, which is expected to arrive on the market by the end of the decade.