Last month, one of Google’s self-driving cars was involved in a collision with a bus, and although nobody was injured (thankfully), it may be the first time one of the cars has caused an accident.
The accident occurred on 14 February, when the prototype car pulled out at 2mph, in front of the bus, which was travelling at 15mph. It was reported to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, who are looking into the incident to decide who was at fault for the collision.
Google said that its car was moving to the far right lane to turn right onto another road, but detected that sand bags were on the ground, blocking its path.
The report said: “After a few cars had passed, the Google AV [Autonomous Vehicle] began to proceed back into the centre of the lane, to pass the sand bags. A public transit bus was approaching from behind. 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. Approximately three seconds later, as the Google AV was re-entering the centre of the lane, it made contact with the side of the bus.”
It is not the first collision one of Google’s self-driving cars has been involved in, but all previous cases were blamed on other road users. This would represent the first crash caused by a car whilst being in autonomous mode.
The algorithm used in the Google self-driving cars has now been refined, the company has revealed, saying: “From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future.”