Google's self-driving cars have now logged over 482,700 kilometres on the road without causing a single accident.
That doesn't mean there haven't been incidents. One of the cars was rear-ended in San Francisco in 2010, and one caused a five-car pile-up in California last year — but both of these seem to be the result of human error, as the car in the California incident was being manually driven at the time of the accident.
Chris Urmson, engineering lead on the project, said in a blog post:
We're encouraged by this progress, but there's still a long road ahead. To provide the best experience we can, we'll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day, we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver's seats and will take back control if needed.
The self-driving system seems to be getting closer to production. In March of this year, a self-driving car successfully ferried a blind man on a shopping trip, and the state of Nevada issued the first licence to one of the Google vehicles in May.
If it brings down the number of traffic injuries and fatalities, we can only see it as a good thing.