Google launched its self-driving car project back in 2010, hoping to reduce the number of traffic fatalities with this technology. Since then, the project has recorded 300,000 miles of accident-free driving while the computer is under control.
When the project was started, Google provided a figure of 1.2 million lives that were lost annually because of traffic accidents. Google’s ultimate goal was to create technology that would allow passengers to be safely transported from one point to another without any input aside from the location. This technology is currently being tested through a fleet of vehicles that are deployed in California and Nevada.
There have been no accidents in the 300,000 miles have been logged by these vehicles while under computer control. There is one recorded accident, but it occurred when the vehicle was under human control.
It is true though that Google operates the vehicles in environments that are easy to maneuver. The self-driving cars run on mostly dry roads, and in moderate conditions. However, Google has expressed interest in testing the vehicles in relatively harsher conditions, such as in the snow.
Brian Walker Smith, an analyst from Stanford Law School, says it is still too early to conclude that self-driving cars are safer than human-controlled cars. “Google’s cars would need to drive themselves (by themselves) more than 725,000 representative miles without incident for us to say with 99 percent confidence that they crash less frequently than conventional cars,” Smith says. “If we look only at fatal crashes, this minimum skyrockets to 300 million miles.”
While the technology has shown immense promise, self-driving cars have a lot to prove before it starts to be widely accepted by drivers and the government. There are only a few states, one of which is Utah, that allow automated cars to be used on public access roads.
Image Source: Google Official Blog