Two driverless prototype cars, one belonging to Internet search giant Google Inc. and the other to auto parts manufacturer Delphi Automotive had almost collided on a Silicon Valley street earlier last week, according to an executive of the former.
This could be the first instance of such an incident happening with two vehicles that have been specifically outfitted to run on automated modes. The incident took place on Tuesday, last week, on San Antonio Road in Palo Alto, commented John Absmeier, director of Delphi’s Silicon Valley lab and global business director for the company’s automated driving program. He experienced the incident first hand, as he was riding as a passenger in one of the cars. Fortunately, the impact was avoided. Absmeier was riding in a prototype Audi Q5 crossover vehicle specifically outfitted with lasers, radar, cameras and special computer software that allowed the vehicle to drive itself – while the driver remained behind the wheel as a backup.
While the Delphi prototype was getting ready change lanes, one of Google’s self-driving prototypes – a Lexus RX400h crossover – cut off the Audi and the latter appropriately aborted the maneuver. Delphi has a Silicon Valley testing facility in Mountain View, close to Google’s headquarters and runs test with two Audi cars – meanwhile Goolge is using at least 20 Lexus prototypes and its latest pod-like autonomous vehicle concepts have started testing since Thursday as well. Bot Delphi and Google have said in the past they had experienced minor collisions with vehicles driven by humans – in most cases the autonomous car was stopped and hit from behind by another car.