Google says its cars without drivers had 11 “minor” accidents in 6 years

Google’s self-driving cars have had 11 “minor” accidents in their six years of trials in California, the U.S. multinational said, a statistic that it prizes as proof of the cars’ safety.

“If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car. Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles (2.7 million kilometers) of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel,” Google’s director of the program, Chris Urmson, said on Monday.

Urmson particularly stressed that the accidents were “minor” and always caused by cars with human drivers.

“Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” he said.

Google’s self-driving car is a project launched in 2009 and planned for development over the long term, though since then its 2 dozen Lexus RX-450h cars equipped with sensors have run some 1.7 million miles (2.7 million kilometers), chiefly on expressways and highways.

For approximately the last two years, however, Google cars have also been self-driving around the streets of Mountain View, California, where the tech giant has its headquarters.

Should the project go forward, Google will have to find a place for its self-driving cars in the current traffic code, which has never considered the possibility of cars taking to the highways without drivers.