Google car crash "not a surprise", says US transport secretary

Autonomous cars shouldn't be compared to perfection, claims Anthony Foxx

Anthony Foxx, the US secretary of transportation, has spoken out about the recent crash involving Google's autonomous car last month, sayin it is "not a surprise".

Speaking to BBC News, Foxx said we shouldn't expect the emerging technology to be perfect.

"Driverless technology presents a lot of potential for disruption on a number of fronts. It's unclear to me now exactly how that future unfolds," said Foxx.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"It's not a surprise that at some point there would be a crash of any technology that's on the road. But I would challenge one to look at the number of crashes that occurred on the same day that were the result of human behavior. I think the question here isn't comparing the automated car against perfection, I think it's a relative comparison to what we have now on the roads which is you and I, and our eyeballs, and our brains."

The accident in question occurred on 14 February with details emerging at the beginning of the month, when one of Google's Lexus SUVs changed lanes suddenly and collided with a bus. Though nobody was injured and both vehicles were moving slowly at the time, the incident has raised concerns.

"In this case, we clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision," a Google spokesperson said at the time.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Fox told the BBC, however, that one of the biggest challenges related to autonomous vehicles is not the technology itself but the legal issues surrounding such a crash, particularly determining who is at fault out of the passenger, the computer and the software company.

At the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, Foxx announced that seven cities across the US had reached the final stage of a competition to receive $40 million (28 million) funding for 'smart technologies' such as driverless vehicles. The US government has already committed $4 billion (2.8 billion) to self-driving cars in the country.

Featured Resources

Navigating the new normal: A fast guide to remote working

A smooth transition will support operations for years to come

Download now

Putting a spotlight on cyber security

An examination of the current cyber security landscape

Download now

The economics of infrastructure scalability

Find the most cost-effective and least risky way to scale

Download now

IT operations overload hinders digital transformation

Clearing the path towards a modernised system of agreement

Download now



TuSimple launches ‘world's first’ autonomous freight network

1 Jul 2020

Will 5G transform the connected car market?

26 May 2020
Business strategy

Uber car involved in fatal crash had software flaws

6 Nov 2019

Most Popular


How to find RAM speed, size and type

24 Jun 2020

Microsoft releases urgent patch for high-risk Windows 10 flaws

1 Jul 2020
Policy & legislation

UK gov buys "wrong" satellites in £500m blunder

29 Jun 2020