Well, nobody is perfect. One of Google’s automated cars just hit a bus during a test drive on California’s public roads. And apparently, no human was to blame this time. The incident happened Feb. 14, but the news was released Monday by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Though the report doesn’t explicitly put the blame on the tech company, Google has claimed “some responsibility” for the crash in a recent press release. It is the first time one of the company’s self-driving cars is the cause of an accident.
Over the past seven years, the automated cars were involved in over a dozen traffic incidents, but all of them were due to human error. Most crashes happened when other participants in the traffic rear-ended the cars.
According to DMV, the car was running at 2 mph while the bus was rolling at 15 mph. Fortunately, none of the passengers were injured during the collision. Yet, there is ‘sustained’ but minor damage to one of the bus’ front fenders, side sensors, and left wheel.
Stacey Hendler Ross of the Valley Transportation Authority said that the agency was currently conducting an investigation into the accident. So far, liability has yet to be determined.
Google pledged to provide more details on the incident Tuesday, during a monthly report on the cars. The web search giant recently told reporters that it clearly bore “some responsibility” for the accident. Nevertheless, the company added that human drivers are involved in similar “misunderstandings” on a daily basis.
Reportedly, the car was in autonomous mode when it tried to dodge some sandbags on a Mountain View road. It was then that the autonomous vehicle struck the right side of a bus coming from behind, but the test driver in the car didn’t intervene since he has assumed the bus driver would stop or slow down. Note: every one of Google’s driverless cars has a human driver that can take control of the vehicle if things go out of hand.
Google concluded that there was a common misunderstanding between the car’s system and the human bus driver which led both to the exact spot on the road at the exact time. The misunderstanding was mainly due to the bus driver’s assumption that the autonomous car would stay put while the bus passes by and the test driver’s assumption that the bus would stop, according to Google.
The company also said that it has now instructed his cars to wait patiently when a bus or large vehicle approaches as the latter are less likely to yield to the driverless cars than other vehicles.
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