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California does a reverse, releases reports of accidents involving self-driving cars

The California Department of Motor Vehicles at first denied the Associated Press' request for the information, but has now changed course.

Google's earlier take on the robo-car was a jury-rigged Lexus RX450h SUV. Google

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released reports Thursday detailing collisions involving half a dozen self-driving cars.

The records, first released to the AP on Thursday with personal information redacted, revealed mostly what had been reported before about accidents in the state involving prototype vehicles tested by Google and Delphi, an auto parts company. In most of the accidents, the cars were in self-driving mode; yes, it was the other person's fault; and none caused any injuries.

Mostly what was new were details about when the accidents occurred and the make and model of the other cars involved, the AP reported. A handful of the collisions involved Lexus SUVs that Google was testing, while the sixth one involved an Audi that Delphi was testing. All accidents were either in Mountain View or Palo Alto, Calif.

The state DMV initially turned down the news organization's public-records request, saying such reports are confidential, according to the AP. On Thursday, however, the agency agreed to share the records -- with personal information blacked out -- after the AP argued, in part, that the DMV "was incorrectly interpreting the confidentiality requirement," the AP said.

California DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez said Friday the move to release the accident records isn't a policy change. The agency examined the law more closely and the DMV's legal team determined it was OK to release the reports with the personal information redacted, she said. Since September, companies testing autonomous vehicles on California roads have been required to report any accidents within 10 days. The reports are different than the crash reports people must submit if anyone is injured or killed, or the damage is more than $750. Gonzalez said that under the law the agency can't release those records.

Consumer advocacy groups have demanded more transparency surrounding the self-driving cars and how they're doing on public streets.

In early June, Google launched a website dedicated to its self-driving cars, including providing some information on accidents so far. Google's newest self-driving prototype vehicles are expected to hit public roads sometime this summer.

Update, 10:15 a.m. PT Friday: Added comments from a California DMV spokeswoman.