Vehicles equipped with autonomous technology will soon be common sights on the roads of Arkansas if the plans of technology companies like Google and auto manufacturers like Volvo and Tesla come to fruition. These companies are working hard to overcome lingering public safety concerns, but their efforts may have been dealt a blow by a Feb. 14 accident involving a municipal bus and an SUV equipped with Google's self-driving technology.
The minor car collision took place not far from Google's base of operations in Mountain View, California, and preliminary reports indicate that the computer software and not the flesh and blood bus driver was at fault. No injuries were reported. Google accepted responsibility in a press release, but the company was quick to point out that changes had been made that would prevent similar collisions in the future. The search engine giant says that the software will no longer expect other road users to slow down in order to let self-driving cars merge with traffic.
Google's self-driving cars have logged about a million test miles, and most of this driving has been done in California and Nevada where autonomous vehicles are allowed on public roads. Google says that the Feb. 14 accident was the first time that a crash involving one of their autonomous vehicles was not caused by a human driver.
Autonomous vehicle technology promises to significantly reduce the number of accidents caused by reckless behavior such as drunk, distracted or drowsy driving. Human factors are involved in most major traffic accidents, and negligent drivers may face lawsuits filed on behalf of accident victims by personal injury attorneys.