Google PR–self-driving car accident and Microsoft tiff

I know I’m getting too cynical, but today Google is in the public relations news on two fronts. First, is their quite public and, according to what I read, increasingly embarrassing tiff with Microsoft over patents. I don’t know enough about the hairy details to comment, but what I can see from the commenters is that Google appears to be taking a bit of beating on the reputation side. That’s the problem with a “do no evil” corporate slogan–it’s so easy to point to the hypocrisies.

Second, is the little fender-bender car accident of their somewhat famous self-driving car. They outfitted this Prius with all kinds of gear that allows it to drive regular roads without humans. Apparently, according to the story, its been pretty darn successful with it logging 160 million miles (huh, one car?) without drivers. But, now this fender bender. Google is quick to point out that the accident occurred when the car was being driven by a human.

Wow, what a way to make the point about the safety of computer-driven vehicles. But, even better. If the Microsoft tiff is causing unhappy headlines, complaints from Google supporters, wouldn’t it be great if there was a great distraction–like having your self-driving car have an accident–with a human driver!

OK, I’m getting too cynical. No one in PR would be that devious. Or, maybe, that smart.

One thought on “Google PR–self-driving car accident and Microsoft tiff”

  1. I think they have multiple cars, they’ve logged a fleet total of 1.6mm miles. It isn’t driven entirely without humans, either. The car drives with people onboard and the people have override ability on any decision the computer makes. It’s no less amazing/terrifying, but just thought I’d clear up any misconceptions people could take away.

    Awesome point on the accident though, that’s brilliant. It’s more likely they have accidents all the time, but it was a convenient kick-the-dog moment when this one happened. Plus they got caught by a passer-by, so had to fess up.

Comments are closed.