Google has been developing an autonomous vehicle that can, allegedly, travel without human interaction. The big-name technology company has kept quiet about the vehicle, releasing only choice bits of information throughout the years. What little is known about the vehicle is that it is a Toyota Prius and has apparently traveled more than hundreds of thousands of miles, according to Google representatives. Google has been so bold as to say that the vehicle could never be in a crash, a notion that was proven false last month.
Google’s autonomous car was caught in a multi-vehicle fender bender last month in California. A total of five cars were involved in the minor accident, but it was Google’s Prius that caused the event. Since the accident, Google has remained tight-lipped about the fact that it’s multi-million dollar, robot-operated car crashed, meeting briefly with the state’s Department of Transportation to placate government concerns.
The fact that Google’s high-tech vehicle managed to crash, despite the company’s assurances that such a happening was impossible, brings up important questions regarding insurance. Some car manufacturers are toying with the concept of vehicles driving to destinations automatically using a mix of augmented reality and GPS technologies. These cars had been lauded as being “crash-proof” as human error would be removed from driving entirely. However, Google’s recent crash shows that even the most advanced technologies can fail, leading to the question: When an autonomous vehicle causes a car accident, who is to blame?
State Farm is one of the few insurance companies following the issue of autonomous automobiles. The insurer notes that the companies responsible for the technologies used in such vehicles could be held responsible in the event of a crash, but it is as yet unclear whether that would be the case.