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Google begins publicly reporting self-driving car accidents

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Google is beginning to publicly detail its driverless car accidents in light of heightened concern about their safety following reports that they've already been in several collisions. Accidents will be detailed on a monthly basis as part of a new report that Google is starting to release on the project's progress. In its first report, for the month of May, Google also details all prior accidents that the vehicles have gotten into. None of which, Google says, were its car's fault.

Accidents largely involve Google's car being rear-ended

"In the six years of our project, we’ve been involved in 12 minor accidents during more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving combined," Google writes. "Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident." The 12 accidents almost exclusively come from the car being rear-ended, with other instances involving the car getting sideswiped or hit after another vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign, according to Google.

Detailing these accidents is certainly meant to calm public concern. It's also a sign of confidence from Google, suggesting that it really doesn't expect this vehicle to be at fault in any accidents. That is, of course, the dream of the driverless car, so one would hope that Google has that down before putting its vehicle out on the roads.

That's exactly what Google is doing soon, too. This summer, Google plans to expand its test track to include the public roads of Mountain View, California. That's a big step forward that'll let Google and the public see how close these vehicles are to being ready for use. The tests will start small, however. Drivers will still be present and ready to take over when necessary, and the cars will be capped at 25 miles per hour.

Verge Video archive: Why Google's new self-driving cars could be the safest on the road (2014)