Google reveals self-driving car flaws

San Francisco: Google on Tuesday said that while its self-driving cars have safely driven more than a million miles, there have been times when humans have had to take over to avoid crashing.

System “anomalies” caused drivers to take the wheel 272 times in California test cars in the 14 months leading up to December, Google said in a report to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The test period saw cars travel more than 420,000 miles (676,000 kilometers) across the state.

There were an additional 69 occasions when drivers seized control from automated systems based on their own judgment calls, according to the report.

The most common cause for intervention occurred when technology did not properly sense a real-world situation, the report indicated.

Google then plays out these situations on a simulator to reveal whether the vehicle would have hit something had the human not taken control, according to Chris Urmson, head of the Internet giant’s self-driving car team.

Urmson cautioned, however, that the number could actually rise as Google self-driving cars are tested in trickier environments such as dangerous weather or traffic.

Urmson was not ready to declare self-driving cars safer than those controlled by humans, but believed Google was making progress toward getting them to market.

California Department of Motor Vehicles officials last month proposed self-driving car regulations that would mandate that a person be able to take the wheel if needed.

California has the potential to set precedent with its rules for self-driving cars, and the proposed regulations were seen as sure to slow down the technology’s progression as it heads mainstream.


Overall Google’s self-driving vehicles have logged more than 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers), the company said.

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