Google has reveled that its self-driving cars had been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago.
The company released the number after Associated Press reported that Google had notified the California Department of Motor Vehicles of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September, when reporting all accidents became a legal requirement of permits for the tests on public roads.
The director of Google’s self-driving car project wrote in a web post that all 11 accidents were minor – “light damage, no injuries” – and happened over 1.7m miles (2.8m km) of tests, including nearly one million miles in self-driving mode.
“Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” Chris Urmson wrote.
“Cause” is a key word: like Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier which suffered an accident in October with one of its two test cars, Google said it was not at fault.
Delphi sent AP an accident report showing its car was hit, but Google has not made public any records, so both enthusiasts and critics of the emerging technology have only the company’s word on what happened.
The motor vehicles department said it could not release details from accident reports.