Three Google employees have been injured in a crash involving one of the company’s self-driving cars.
Google revealed the accident happened on 1 July when its car was rear-ended while stationary on a public road in Mountain View, California.
It is the first accident involving one of Google’s fleet of self-driving vehicles to have resulted in injury.
The modified Lexus sports utility vehicle, 20 of which are operating on public roads, was hit by another driver. Three Google employees within the self-driving car were taken to hospital complaining of whiplash and later released. The driver of the other car also complained of neck and back pain.
The Google car was stopped in a queue of traffic when it was hit by the vehicle travelling at 17mph, according to an accident report filed by Google.
This is the 14th accident in six years and about 1.9 million miles of testing, according to the company. In 11 of the 14 accidents, Google said its car was rear-ended.
Google has also said that its cars have not caused any of the collisions while driving themselves. In 2011, a Google employee took one of the company’s cars to run an errand and rear-ended another vehicle, but the car was under human control at the time.
Chris Urmson, head of Google’s self-driving car programme, wrote that his automated cars “are being hit surprisingly often” by distracted drivers.
“The clear theme is human error and inattention. We’ll take all this as a signal that we’re starting to compare favourably with human drivers.”
Urmson said his team was exploring whether its cars could do something to alert distracted drivers before a collision. Honking would be one possibility, but Urmson said the noise could annoy residents of Mountain View where the cars are tested.