Google's self-driving car: CRASH course in PR needed

Google's self-driving cars ain't perfect

Google's self driving car
Credit: Steve Jurvetson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Google takes the wheel, driving away from bad press. News that its auto-automaton has been involved in few prangs has caused more damage than dented bumpers and chipped paint. A PR touch-up is required -- and just what the mechanic ordered -- to fine tune public opinion and restore a flawless finish.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers place both hands on the wheel.

Today's humble blogwatcher is .

Zach Miners digs with a steady hand:

Google says its self-driving cars can make driving safer because they pay better attention to the road than humans do -- though there have been dings along the way.  MORE

But Justin Pritchard is on a collision course with a robot:

The self-driving cars that Google has been testing on California's roads and highways were involved in 11 minor accidents over the past six years.

The company released the number Monday after The Associated Press reported that Google had notified California of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September, when reporting all accidents became a legal requirement as part of the permits for the tests on public roads.  MORE

To Google's Chris Urmson, the gas tank appears half-empty:

One of the most important things we need to understand in order to judge our cars' safety performance is "baseline" accident activity on typical suburban streets. Quite simply, because many incidents never make it into official statistics, we need to find out how often we can expect to get hit by other drivers.  MORE

Mark Harris reports all accidents, big and small:

[Every company] testing autonomous cars in California has had to post a $5 million bond against the possibility of their vehicles damaging property or injuring or killing someone. They are also required to report all accidents...even the slightest fender bender.

Some companies aren't happy about this. Google and Volkswagen...proposed that only accidents occurring while vehicles were driving themselves should be reported.  MORE

Miles to go before Eugene Kim sleeps (in a self-driving car):

Self-driving cars may have a long road ahead before winning over mainstream American consumers.

According to a Harris Poll survey...33% of all US adults indicated they will never consider buying or leasing a self-driving vehicle.

Google will have to allay those concerns if it wants its autonomous cars to catch on with the public.  MORE

Chris Matyszczyk musters a regiment of used, slightly-damaged cars:

A quick mustering of the math tells me...incident-affected cars represent around 8 percent of all the the self-driving cars on the road.

I fancy that's a significant number, but also one that may not prove anything.

Three of the cars belonged to Google and one to Delphi, the auto parts company that in March set one of its self-driving cars to drive itself across America.  MORE

Meanwhile, Damon Lavrinc searches for transparent car keys:

[Transparency] in the development of self-driving cars is key, and waiting for the AP to ring Google's PR for comment and then going into spin mode isn't the way to push the game forward, even if the car and its brace of sensors and computers wasn't at fault.  MORE

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings and Stephen Glasskeys, who curate the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websitesÖ so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @itblogwatch or Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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