Google has revealed that its self-driving car has been involved in a total of 11 minor accidents since it began experimenting with the tech almost six years ago.
Three of those accidents have taken place since September, at which point the state of California created a new law stating that all accidents involving self-driving cars had to be reported.
"Even when our software and sensors can detect a sticky situation and take action earlier and faster than an alert human driver, sometimes we won't be able to overcome the realities of speed and distance; sometimes we'll get hit just waiting for a light to change," said director of Google's self driving car program, Chris Urmson. "And that's important context for communities with self-driving cars on their streets; although we wish we could avoid all accidents, some will be unavoidable."
Perhaps most importantly, the self-driving tech was not once the cause of the accidents. Only twice did the car crash while in self-driving mode, and both times it was the fault of the other person involved.
Despite the fact that the self-driving tech was not the cause of the accidents, they will almost certainly raise suspicion over the effectiveness of self-driving cars when it comes to safety. Ever since the concept first started becoming popular, those against the idea have suggested that it could end up causing more accidents than preventing them. Despite this, all reports so far suggest that this is not true and that the tech will drastically reduce the number of accidents on the road. Despite this, there is still a lack of objective data related to the tech, meaning that there will likely be years of testing before self-driving cars are common practice in cities.
Of course, earning driver trust will be one of the biggest hurdles that self-driving car manufacturers will face. Drivers will likely not want to give up the wheel naturally, and even if they do, they will need to watch the road as carefully as usual, at least at the start.
"Safety is our highest priority," said Google in a statement. "Since the start of our program six years ago, we've driven nearly a million miles autonomously, on both freeways and city streets, and the self-driving car hasn't caused a single accident."
Of course, when driverless cars are the only cars, there will be next to no accidents. Every car will drive predictably and intentionally, without the problems associated with speeding, road rage and so on.