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Google’s Self-Driving Cars Report 13 Near Misses

posted: 01/13/16
by: Danny Clemens
Google self-driving car
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Had a human not taken control, Google's self-driving cars would have likely been involved in 13 collisions over the past 15 months, a new report from the company says.

Of the 13 "simulated contacts," as Google calls them, only 10 would have been the direct result of the car's software. The remaining 3 close calls were caused by another driver's behavior, including an incident in which a motorist was driving on the wrong side of the street toward one of Google's vehicles.

"In these cases, we believe a human driver could have taken a reasonable action to avoid the contact but the simulation indicated the [self-driving car] would not have taken that action," Google writes.

Related: Google Driverless Car Pulled Over for Driving Slowly

There were an additional 56 human takeover events where a collision was not imminent; rather, a driver took over to remedy behavior that could have proven dangerous "in other environments or situations if not addressed," including proper traffic light and pedestrian perception and traffic law observation.

Although the overall number of reported takeovers might sound like a lot, the self-driving vehicle software has shown steady improvements in accuracy. Only 2 of the 13 simulated contact events occurred in the back half of the year, and the ratio between the number of disengagements reported and the number of miles driven tripled between September 2014 and November 2015.

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