Google: self-driving cars safer than professional drivers

Google has said that its data reveals self-driving cars are safer than any human driver on the road.

Google has said that its data reveals self-driving cars are safer than any human driver on the road.

(Google Self-Driving Car image by Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0)

Speaking at the RoboBusiness robotics conference in California last week, Google director of self-driving cars Chris Urmson said that the data collected from Google's self-driving Lexus and Prius cars reveals that the cars are better drivers than humans, MIT Technology Review reports.

Urmson had already noted in a blog post in August last year that, at that time, the cars had collectively driven over 482,700 kilometres without causing a single incident. The new data shows that when the cars are being driven by human operators, they accelerate and brake more sharply than when driving themselves — and that the software is better at maintaining a safe distance behind other cars.

"We're spending less time in near-collision states," Urmson said. "Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers."

Google's self-driving cars have been involved in a total of two traffic incidents to date: in August 2011, a Google car rear-ended another car near Google's Mountain View, California headquarters; and in 2010, another car rear-ended the Google car while it was stopped at a traffic light. Both incidents were the fault of human drivers.

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