Three Google employees suffered minor whiplash when their self-driving car, an autonomous Lexus RX 450h, was rear-ended by another vehicle. The incident occurred at a traffic light near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, en California. Google confirmed to Reuters that all three people were sent to a nearby hospital "as a precautionary measure" but were not admitted.
Still, this is the first time a Google self-driving car gets into an accident that results in injuries.
"Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road," wrote Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car project, in the blog post. "The clear theme is human error and inattention" in those incidents.
Since the launch of its self-driving car development program in 2009, Google reports 14 collisions including 11 rear-end impacts, and reportedly none of them were caused by the driverless vehicles.
Google is currently experimenting with a fleet of 23 specially equipped Lexus prototypes, as well as tiny, futuristic-looking autonomous cars that have no steering wheels and no gas or brake pedals.
Companies like Google plan to come to market with self-driving vehicles by 2020. Urmson insisted Google doesn’t want to manufacture its own cars, and prefers to secure a partner for development and production. It likely won’t be one of the few automakers which are developing their own driverless prototype as we speak.