Before the naysayers can gather enough ammunition to gun down the notion of autonomous driving, let it be known that Google’s prototypes for autonomous driving have been involved in a total of 11 accidents over a six-year period – and not a single one has been caused by the prototypes.

A report by Automotive News Europe, citing Reuters and Backchannel, quotes project director Chris Urmson as stating that “not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident” and that “no one was injured in the accidents.” Out of the 11 accidents, seven of them involved said prototypes getting rear-ended by another vehicle at stop lights and on city streets.

The other four incidents were recorded back in September 2014, involving three Lexus RX450h prototypes and a single Audi SQ5, the latter owned by Delphi Automotive. Despite two of the four accidents occurring under self-driving mode, police reports have concluded that none of the autonomous prototypes were at fault. California requires firms such as Google to hold permits to test autonomous vehicles on public roads.


Currently, Google’s team of “drivers” have covered a distance in excess of 2.7 million km since the project took off. In total, its fleet of prototypes now travel an average of 16,000 km per week in fully autonomous mode – a sole human driver is always present should the system experience a glitch.

Back in December 2014, the California-based technology giant unveiled the first “real prototype” of its autonomous vehicle. The firm’s first purpose-built vehicle possesses a top speed of 40 km/h and is said to still possess a throttle and steering wheel to fulfill strict Californian laws.