Google’s monthly autonomy report: Mostly quiet on the western front
Every month, Google releases a report chronicling its self-driving car development efforts. Some months are busy, with lots of random accidents and long stories diving into various parts of its R&D. This past July, though, was a rather quiet month.
Currently, the company has 58 autonomous vehicles — 24 Lexus RX hybrid SUVs, and 34 of its weird gumdrop cars — crawling around Washington, California, Arizona and Texas. Since the start of its efforts in 2009, its vehicles have driven 1.8 million miles autonomously, averaging some 20,000 miles per week.
Its long story this month revolves around the safety of its onboard autonomous systems. Google conducts a bunch of contingency tests — loose cables, wiring shorts, software bugs — on its private test track. It’s loaded its vehicles with all manner of redundant systems to ensure that issues won’t leave a car driving blind. It even has a secondary computer built to monitor the main system and ensure a car can pull off the road if there’s an issue.
Every monthly report also includes accident reports. This past month, Google’s vehicles only had one accident. One of its gumdrop cars was rear-ended at approximately 7 mph while stopped at a stop sign. The car suffered some damage to its hatch and a sensor, but there were no injuries. For as long as I’ve been following these reports, Google’s cars have never been at fault.