At Google Inc.’s annual stockholder conference Wednesday, one shareholder urged the company to release its accident reports from the 11 that were recently reported, while Sergey Brin shared that there was another minor accident in a self-driving car in the past week.
John Simpson, a shareholder from the taxpayer and consumer interest organization Consumer Watchdog, said he would like to see the accident reports, but Brin, co-founder and head of Google[x], said that for privacy reasons — the drivers’ names, the car’s makes and models — the reports aren’t going to be released. At the same time, Brin expressed his surprise that Consumer Watchdog is a stockholder given its critiques of the tech giant.
Brin shared that the latest accident, which is the 12th, was another rear-end collision. He said the reports are fairly basic and state the crashes were all rear-end collisions. Google came out last month saying the accidents over the past six years in its driverless cars were all caused by human error.
“The biggest learning is people don’t pay attention (when they’re driving),” he said, after being asked to come to the stage from the audience to answer the question. “We don’t want to release details because that is the privacy issue.”
Before the meeting, Brin filed a letter Wednesday stating that the car project and others like it are very challenging and the outcomes are far from certain, but they’re worth it to defend its Moonshots, more research heavy projects, to its shareholders.
“Just like when we started nearly two decades ago, it is possible to create the technology that allows people to lead healthier, happier lives,” he wrote. “And, along with our incredibly passionate employees, I am humbled and excited to try.”
At the meeting, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt shared his own hopes for the company’s moonshots. When he heard about Project Loon, he made a bet that the hot air balloons aimed to connect 5 billion people to the Internet would not work.
His "wow" moment was when he realized he could traverse the top of Mt. Everest from the safety of his office through Google Earth.
“We’re not perfect,” he said. “We make mistakes, but when it works, it changes the world.”
The same day, a report from Xconomy says Google that quotes two anonymous industry experts who say the Google quietly acquired the startup Lumedyne Technologies that invented new sensor technology for precisely tracking changes in direction for $85 million in November.
The sensors could be used in smartphones and robotics, but it could also be used in navigation, perhaps for Android Auto or the self-driving cars. The self-driving cars rely on various sensors.