The first bit of bad news has come in from Apple’s ambitious initiative to push forward self-driving cars. This crash report comes in from a California DMV REPORT, but from the looks of it, the incident might not have been the fault of the self-driving vehicle.
Furthering this belief is the fact that the DMV report was submitted by Apple, not by the other driver, the police, or local authorities. And as with all Self-Driving Cars, this one was equipped with a full rig of 360-degree cameras that were able to capture and record everything that was going on at the time of the collision.
There were also able to pinpoint the Google Maps location where the crash occurred.
Apple had the following to say about the collision:
On August 24th at 2:58 PM, an Apple test vehicle in autonomous mode was rear-ended while preparing to merge onto Lawrence Expressway South from Kifer Road. The Apple test vehicle was traveling less than 1 mph waiting for a safe gap to complete the merge when a 2016 Nissan Leaf contacted the Apple test vehicle at approximately 15 mph. Both vehicles sustained damage and no injuries were reported by either party.
Cnet writer Sean Hollister was able to capture this image of the approaching car just moments before the collision. It would appear that the collision was due to the inattentiveness of the other driver, who collided with the rear of the Apple vehicle.
Apple is still running its test fleet of self-driving vehicles in California, with the current fleet believed to be just under 70 total vehicles. With so many active units on the road, it is a testament to the reliability of their programming that this was the first incident of a crash.
However, due to the circumstances of this event, some might say that Apple’s cars have never been involved in an accident because this situation’s perpetrator was almost certainly the human-controlled vehicle that struck the self-driving car from the rear. Even if the self-driving vehicle were replaced by an attentive human driver, there’s no clear way it could have escaped this difficult situation.
Apple will likely discard this crash as a non-issue and continue the expansive testing of their self-driving systems. In the coming years, they may look to partner with a car dealership and begin marketing self-driving vehicles to larger audiences.