California car owners may have seen the Google Streetview cars driving through their neighborhood, but recently it’s come to light that some of their street cars in California are operating automatically. Ironically, some of the cars used are Toyota Priuses, the same ones at the heart of class action liability lawsuits for unintended acceleration. The New York Times covered a recent test run, noting that: “[The car] drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later. The device atop the car produced a detailed map of the environment. The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like “approaching a crosswalk” (to warn the human at the wheel) or “turn ahead” in a pleasant female voice. This same pleasant voice would, engineers said, alert the driver if a master control system detected anything amiss with the various sensors.” As the recalls of millions of hybrid vehicles demonstrated earlier in the year, cars with computerized control systems may have serious problems. While the Google cars have reportedly completed 140,000 miles of autonomous driving without incident, Americans drive millions of miles each day. Whether the electronics provide assistance, as Google’s do, or they provide problems like accelerators in Toyota Camry Hybrids and Ford Fusion Hybrids, drivers should be aware that technology can sometimes lead to car accidents in California and throughout the country.
[Image: Jon Delore y via Flickr]