Self-driving cars were one of those technologies that we sort of visualized as part of the future, much like jetpacks or hoverboards… but it seems like the future is already here, at least for driverless cars (you’ve got a lot to prove, Lexus!). Google’s cars are already hitting the street in California.

The Google Self-Driving Car is a project by Google that involves developing technology for autonomous cars, mainly electric, eco-friendly cars. Legislation has been passed in four U.S. states and Washington, D.C. allowing driverless cars, with California leading the way. Unfortunately though, driverless cars are still in their early stages, being allowed to travel only at 40 km/h max and with a driver in the car at all times, for safety reasons. Ironically though, in all of the 12 accidents that self driving cars were involved in, humans were to blame. There was no indication that being in such a car is dangerous at all – on the contrary, it seems like it’s much safer than conventional cars.

“Given the time we’re spending on busy streets, we’ll inevitably be involved in accidents; sometimes it’s impossible to overcome the realities of speed and distance. Thousands of minor accidents happen every day on typical American streets, 94% of them involving human error, and as many as 55% of them go unreported. (And we think this number is low; for more, see here.) In the six years of our project, we’ve been involved in 12 minor accidents during more than 1.8 million miles of auto,” the company wrote in a report.

Google said they were happy with results so far, but they’re trying to improve even more.

“We’ve made a lot of progress with our self-driving technology over the past six years, and we’re still learning. Every day we head out onto public streets so we can keep challenging and refining our software.”

Also, as people in Mountain View, California, noticed, Google’s cars are also really cute and small – which can help in the crowded traffic. They also require less fuel than the average car.

Google also announced that they will release monthly updates and public reports on how their self-driving cars are going. You can access them here and already read the latest report here.

Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!

Like us on Facebook