14 May 2015
Google has revealed that its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago.
Speaking ahead of a major conference of driverless vehicles taking place in Greenwich today, Prof Phil Blythe from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) commented that the accidents have happened over 1.7m miles of testing, were minor accidents and not related to the vehicles being driverless – so should not discourage the UK’s move towards driverless cars.
The accident statistics may be of concern to drivers in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry, where driverless trials are taking place.
Prof Blythe said: “Driverless vehicles have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network. They could improve road safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions.
“The trials – in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry - are very important. They will help address the important challenges to address before these cars can become mainstream on our roads. Public acceptance and trust are crucial, so these trials must get to grips with the best ways to win over everyone from car manufacturers to consumers to the benefits of driverless cars.
“All the technology needed for highly automated vehicles currently exists and are features of our vehicles already, such as stay in lane technology, speed control and reverse parking assistance.
“However, we are unlikely to see fully autonomous vehicles in the very near future but what we will see is increased levels of automation, such as speed and lane control, rather than completely driverless cars. The increased technology in our vehicles will also have a very beneficial effect for older people, allowing them to stay mobile for longer.”
Prof Phil Blythe is a keynote speaker at the IET’s Autonomous Passenger Vehicles: Essential Strategies in Bringing Driverless Cars to Market, taking place today in Greenwich.