Aug. 8, 2011 at 1:22 PM ET
As further evidence that we should welcome our robot overlords, it turns out the first self-driving car accident in robo history was caused by a human driver.
The competency of robo drivers came in to question over the weekend after Jalopnik posted a photo of a fender bender sent in by a tipster.
"This photo of what looks like a minor case of Prius-on-Prius vehicular violence may actually be a piece of automotive history," the automotive blog reported. Jalopnik identifed the collision-causing car in the photo — snapped near Google's Mountain View campus in California — by "the roof equipment that's smaller than a typical Google Streetview."
The historic moment passed quickly however, along with any opportunity for robot rebellion hysteria, when Google stated that the car was not in auto-mode at the time of the fender bender. "Safety is our top priority," Google told Business Insider. "One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car."
If only Google's self-driving cars came equipped with the "magical software" Google exec Vic Gundotra credits (in that one Mercedes commercial) with preventing a collision when he became distracted while driving his S63 AMG Sedan.
Indeed, the Google Prius damaged not one — but three — other cars in a chain reaction more confusing than Google+. One of the victims —a woman in a Honda Accord, described a "a huge screeching noise," to NBC Bay Area news, which delineated the accident: "Google's Prius struck another Prius, which then struck her Honda Accord that her brother was driving. That Accord then struck another Honda Accord, and the second Accord hit a separate, non-Google-owned Prius."
No word yet on what caused the accident —beyond human error — but Google Spokesman Jay Nanacarrow pointed out to NBC Bay Area, that since Google's self-driving prototypes hit the road last year, "the cars have traveled 160,000 miles autonomously without incident."
This — and the fact that robot cars don't text — didn't stop the jokes at Jalopnik. "This is precisely why we're worried about self-driving cars," quipped the car blog. "Perhaps the complicated set of lasers and imaging systems that Google chief autonomous car researcher Sebastian Thrun called 'the perfect driving mechanism' thought it was just looking at its shadow."
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