Automotive

Google's autonomous Lexus self-drives into the side of a bus

Google's autonomous Lexus self...
One of Google's Lexus autonomous SUVs was involved in a crash in Mountain View, California
One of Google's Lexus autonomous SUVs was involved in a crash in Mountain View, California
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One of Google's Lexus autonomous SUVs was involved in a crash in Mountain View, California
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One of Google's Lexus autonomous SUVs was involved in a crash in Mountain View, California

Google's perfect self-driving record has received its first little blemish, with one of the company's autonomous vehicles colliding at low speed with the side of a bus in Mountain View, California.

In the six years that Google's self-driving cars have roamed city streets testing out its autonomous vehicle technology, they have been involved in at least 17 accidents. But the company has never conceded that its vehicle was the cause of a collision.

In an incident in mid-February, a Google Lexus autonomous SUV was making a right-hand turn when it encountered a set of sandbags blocking its path. After coming to a stop and waiting for a break in traffic, it attempted to veer back into the center of the lane and hit the side of a bus at around 2 mph (3.2 km/h). The bus was traveling at 15 mph (24.1 km/h).

According to accident report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), "the Google AV test driver saw the bus approaching in the left side mirror but believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google AV to continue." Nobody was injured in the incident but there was some damage to the car's left front fender, left front wheel and one of the sensors. A witness video uploaded to YouTube can be viewed here.

In what marks the first admission of fault from Google with regard to its autonomous driving tech, according to The Verge its forthcoming monthly report states, "in this case, we clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision. That said, our test driver believed the bus was going to slow or stop to allow us to merge into the traffic, and that there would be sufficient space to do that."

Given that Google's self-driving cars have logged over one million miles (1,600,000 km) of autonomous travel since the program began in 2009, this is one pretty minor speed hump on one very long road. The company says it has reviewed the recent incident along with thousands of variations and made refinements to its software, which will allow it to better understand that large vehicles are less likely to yield than others.

Source: DMV

6 comments
Billy Sharpstick
How many of us mere humans can claim no more than one accident in a million miles of driving?
Paul Anthony
"The company says it has reviewed the recent incident along with thousands of variations and made refinements to its software, which will allow it to better understand that large vehicles are less likely to yield than others." This statement is devious, in the sense that it implies that the bus should yield even though it has the right of way. Perhaps the software should be changed to better understand that you should proceed only when it is safe to do so.
Stephen N Russell
Better asses issue now to avoid larger ones legally down road, Can impact self driving market alone, Must repair. Take care of issues NOW prior major dings in future if any.
Bob Flint
It avoided the hay bails, yet decided that the moving vehicle many times it's size was fair game? What if it had been a cyclist?
Marc Stinebaugh
Even the human driver believed the same thing would happen that the computer did.
Deres
Teh accident is also very interessant because a human conductor would probably have gone over the sandbags instead of changing lane. The google car is incapable to go over such unknown obstacle. Otherwise, it could be a corpse for instance ... A human driver would have identified the object and deduce that it can go over it at low speed, in a safer and quicker way than changing lane against heavy traffic.