Assault And Battery: Google Self-Driving Car T-Boned By Interstate Delivery Truck

Google's been lucky in that it's avoided any major collisions involving its fleet of self-driving cars up to this point, though that changed heading into the weekend when an autonomous Lexus RX sustained significant damage from a commercial delivery van plowing into the passenger side of the vehicle. Initial reports suggest Google's self-driving technology was not at fault.

The accident occurred in Mountain View as the Lexus RX was traveling northbound on Phyllis Ave. While going through an intersection, a commercial van traveling westbound on El Camino Real ran a red light and smashed into the autonomous vehicle. Cell phone footage taken from the passenger of the Lexus RX shows the car hoisted onto a flatbed tow truck with the passenger side doors crumpled inwards.

google crash grommet
[Image Source: @grommet]
"I only saw the tail-end of the crash, and the dazed Google employees sitting around afterwards waiting for their tow-truck. I had to be on my way," a witness told 9To5Google. "From what I could see, it was the van’s fault entirely."

As far as Google is concerned, situations like this where human error come into play underscore why self-driving technology is so critical.

"Our light was green for at least six seconds before our car entered the intersection," Google said in a statement. "Thousands of crashes happen everyday on U.S. roads, and red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes in the U.S. Human error plays a role in 94 percent of these crashes, which is why we’re developing fully self-driving technology to make our roads safer."

Google and other companies working to advance the category of autonomous vehicles have run into some resistance by critics and regulatory bodies concerned about the overall safety and pace of self-driving technology. For its part, Google's track record in the category is stellar, though not unblemished—back in February, one of its Lexus RX vehicles misjudged a lane change and clipped an approaching bus. No injuries were reported.

More recently, a man was killed while sitting behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S that was operating in Autopilot mode. Both the vehicle's autonomous technology and the driver failed to apply the brakes as it ran under a tractor-trailer. That situation is currently under investigation by the SEC.