Google's first-of-its-kind car with a highly sophisticated autopilot feature has had its first accident. But Google is saying the fault lies with the human driver int he car, not with the automated driving technology under the hood.
The car in question is a Prius, and has been loaded with a very special software package designed by Google for use in and around the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California.
The software uses all sorts of tools, ranging from a set of short-range radar sensors and video cameras to a persistent Internet connection that constantly scans Google Maps for road and traffic updates.
While obviously it is still a highly focused and experimental project, it could be the beginning of a ripple effect on the entire automotive industry. That is, unless it turned out to be unsafe.
So the concerns are pretty obvious when the car got into a minor collision late last week.
After all, the whole point is to let the car drive itself and not worry about getting into a fender bender, regardless of whose fault it is. This was the first time such an incident has occurred.
However, a Google spokesperson assures this is not the car's fault. The driver had disabled the autopilot feature and was driving it manually.
"Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car," the company rep said.
There is no rollout schedule or any sort of grand plan for Google's driving car software at this point. It remains, and probably will for a while, a high concept experiment.