Rival driverless cars in near-collision on open road (updated)

26 Jun 2015

Delphi's modified Audi A5 driverless car

It was bound to happen eventually. News from California claims that driverless cars being tested by Google and Delphi ‘squared off’ with one another on the state’s roads, with one of them needing to take evasive action.

The recent testing of driverless cars on the roads of California has been well documented recently, with every minor incident with cars on the road examined with a fine toothcomb, but this incident marks the first time two have come bumper-to-bumper.

According to Reuters, this marks the first time that driverless cars from different companies have come in close contact with one another and it appears that an accident was prevented at the last minute.

In the Delphi car was the company’s global business director and director of its research labs, John Absmeier, who spoke of the incident afterwards.

According to Absmeier, the Delphi Audi A5 rigged with its self-driving technology, was cut-off by Google’s modified Lexus RX400h, forcing it to abort a lane change its computer systems were just about to take.

It was only after the Delphi car took “appropriate action”, that an accident was prevented, Absmeier said.

According to the BBC, however, Google has since flatly denied that there was any danger posed by its car with Delphi’s own driverless car and that its car behaved as expected when confronted with any other car on the road.

Google currently has a fleet of 23 modified Lexus vehicles testing its self-driving platform and with many other car companies already working on their own autonomous cars, incidents such as these might become more frequent in the very near future.

Update 26/06/2015 3.57pm: 

Delphi has since retracted all comments about there being a near-collision between the Delphi and Google cars, and states that the two cars passed by without incident.

A statement from  the company reads: “During a demo drive of our automated vehicle, our expert used the interaction with the Google car as an example of the types of scenarios that the car can encounter in real-world driving. It was an anecdote of an interaction, not a ‘near miss’. Reuters completely misrepresented the facts.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic