Two self-driving cars almost had an “encounter” recently. Luckily, no one was injured and no harsh language was exchanged.
According to reports, an experimental self-driving car from auto parts maker Delphi was cruising along a street in Silicon Valley and was in the process of moving into another lane when another self-driving car, this one from Google, cut it off by moving into the same lane.
The incident was disclosed to a reporter from Reuters and the story was picked up by several other news agencies.
But Kristen Kinley, a spokewoman from Delphi, says the incident couldn’t even be called a near miss or a possible cause of accidents. Instead, she said it was a clear example of how self-driving cars can avoid accidents. Kinley gave a description of the incident.
“Our car saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into, but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again.”
A spokeswoman for Google concurs and pointed out that the news here is “that two self-driving cars did what they were supposed to do in a fairly ordinary everyday driving scenario.”
While the incident between Google and Delphi’s experimental self-driving cars ended on a relatively good note, it does highlight a situation that Google’s self-driving cars have experienced on the streets of California.
Ever since Google was given the green light to test drive its cars in April, they have already figured in several fender benders. Google’s self-driving cars have been rear-ended by a Honda Accord, a BMW S3, a Toyota Camry and a Ford Expedition. In every incident, the Google self-driving car was either travelling at no more than five miles per hour or it was parked in idle.
There’s no evidence or any incident to suggest that a Google self-driving car has caused an accident, but why is it the receiving end of so many encounters?
According to Raj Rajkumar, a designer of self-driving vehicles at Carnegie Mellon University, the reason could be the lasers on the roof of the vehicle or even the Google logo that advertises the cars as a self-driving car. He describes them as distractions and admits that people’s reactions change when they’re distracted.
Rajkumar, who’s now the CEO of Ottomatika, recounted how drivers would take out their smart phones to take a photo or a video of his self-driving car.
[Image via YouTube]