Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Google’s Christopher Urmson believes driverless cars will saves lives by reducing traffic deaths.

A Google autonomous vehicle test driver was hospitalized after getting t-boned by a van that ran a red light near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

As the Google self-driving Lexus went through a green light in manual mode, its autonomous technology detected a van that was about to run the red light and began to apply the brakes, states the company's self-driving car report for September. The test driver put the car fully in manual mode and was then struck by the other vehicle. The Google car "sustained substantial damage to its front and rear passenger doors," reads the report.

The test driver later voluntarily went to hospital, was evaluated and then released. The driver of the other vehicle didn't report any injuries.

Story continues below advertisement

In the more than seven years Google has been testing self-driving cars, this is the most serious crash involving one of its cars.

Google cars were also involved in three other crashes in September.

Google has been teaching its cars to drive slightly above the speed limit for safety reasons and to honk at bad drivers, but the biggest obstacle is human drivers.

"So much of driving relies on silent conversations conducted via gentle nudge-and-response," reads the report. "Our cars can often mimic these social behaviours and communicate our intentions to other drivers, while reading many cues that tell us if we're able to pass, cut in or merge."

Google says its cars are getting better at detecting and responding to crossing guards, emergency vehicles, construction zones and how to merge during rush hour.

A report last year from researchers at the University of Michigan found that self-driving cars are more than four times as likely to involved in an accident than conventional cars, but the self-driving cars aren't at fault.

"Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers, who are distracted and not paying attention to the road," wrote Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car unit, in a blog post last year.

Story continues below advertisement

Google's September report also shows its vehicles have driven more than 2 million fully-autonomous miles on public roads. Google says this is equivalent to 300 years of human driving experience. The first million miles took six years, but the second million took 16 months.

We've redesigned the Drive section – take a look

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies