On Thursday Google announced that their newest self-driving car prototypes were hitting California streets. The new prototype uses the same software as Google’s other self-driving cars, but this version was designed from the ground up, with self-driving as a constant focus. Still relatively early in testing, the new cars are limited to 25 miles per hour and are still equipped with all the usual controls so that a human driver can intervene if necessary. On the same day as Google’s announcement, rival company Delphi Automotive Plc told Reuters about a close call with two self-driving cars.
Delphi executive John Absmeier says he was a passenger in a Delphi Audi Q5 autonomous car when the incident occurred on Tuesday, June 23 in Palo Alto. Both vehicles were crossovers equipped with lasers, radar, cameras and similar computer software designed to enable the vehicle to drive itself, with a person at the wheel as a backup. As Absmeier’s vehicle prepared to change lanes, he says Google’s autonomous Lexus RX400h cut it off, forcing the Delphi car to abort the lane change. It was a near miss, but both cars avoided a collision. This was the first known incident involving two autonomous vehicles.
Both companies have previously reported minor accidents with self-driving cars, but all prior cases the collisions were caused by human drivers in nearby cars. Google hasn’t yet commented on this week’s incident with Delphi, but they recently made monthly accident reports available to the public. So far only the May report is available, but we look forward to reading Google’s side of the story when their June accident report is published.