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California's DMV decides to share data on self-driving car accidents after all

California's DMV decides to share data on self-driving car accidents after all


No injuries to report, and the other driver has always been at fault

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After initially refusing to share details of accidents involving self-driving cars on California's public roads citing privacy concerns, the state's DMV has now reversed course and issued reports covering six such incidents. The Associated Press successfully convinced California's Department of Motor Vehicles that withholding specifics went against the public interest, as the DMV had previously cited state regulations that require collision reports to remain confidential. "After further review, DMV has determined that it is possible to release the factual information related to the autonomous vehicle reports," a spokesperson told the AP. Personal information for the drivers involved will be redacted whenever the DMV shares these documents.

No serious accidents yet

It appears there wasn't much to hide. Similar to Google's own published accounts, the DMV's reports show there have been no injuries to speak of in any collision, and the other driver was blamed for being at fault in every case. Five of the reports are tied to Google, with the other covering self-driving efforts from Delphi, which demonstrated a production-ready limited self-driving system at CES this year.

There's not much in the way of new information here either, aside from the exact time and location for these six accidents; Google has already disclosed them as part of the company's effort to increase transparency around how its self-driving cars are faring. But there did at one point seem to be some lack of communication between Google and California's DMV. Prior to an April conference call with Google, the DMV had been totally unaware of eight incidents involving Google's fleet that occured between 2010 and July 2014. State law mandates that accidents totaling $750 or more in property damage be reported to the agency. It's very possible Google's cars suffered less damage than that. By all accounts, these were nothing more than terribly minor fender benders. But the company told the AP that since repairs were completed in-house, it's unable to put an estimate on those damages.

Nevertheless, Google has said that going forward, we can expect to see monthly reports on any troubles its cars run into on public roads, so the company is responding well to initial criticisms.