Self-driving Google cars suffer their worst smash yet - but humans were to blame

What does red mean again?

People are understandably concerned about the potential risks posed by runaway self-driving cars – but on the flip side, who's going to protect these autonomous vehicles from the dangers posed by human drivers?

In what looks like the worst smash yet for one of Google's fleet of self-driving motors, 9to5Google reports that one of the cars was rammed sideways by a truck that ran a red light. Even with the best radar equipment on Earth on board, that's tricky to avoid.

Fortunately no one was hurt in the incident and all airbags deployed as intended. The Google-owned Lexus came off the worst, with its right door almost completely smashed in and a big repair job on the cards.

Smash and grab

While Google's self-driving cars have been in accidents before, the vast majority are caused by human error. The company makes monthly reports available detailing the activities of its autonomous fleet, together with any incidents on the road.

According to Google, the self-driving car waited at least six seconds on a green light before proceeding – the human-controlled van ran through a red light and collided with it. The Mountain View company says 94 percent of such crashes are caused by human error.

Recently, accidents involving the self-driving Autopilot technology installed in some of its vehicles have forced Tesla to review its software. In future, the cars will rely more on radar technology rather than camera sensors to detect other vehicles and objects.

Header image taken by @grommet, used with permission.

Forget self-driving cars, here's a self-driving vacuum cleaner: