Google Driverless Car hits Bus

Published Date: 2nd Mar 2016

After well over a million miles of experience, the Google Driverless car still needs work.

One of Google's self-driving cars crashed into a bus in California last month. There were no injuries. This is not the first time one of Google's driverless cars has been involved in a road collision, but it may be the first time it merits any blame.

Google are scheduled to meet with California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to talk about the collision, and explain who or what is to blame. The incident took place on 14th February 2016 the Google driverless car was travelling at 2mph, and it then pulled out in front of an LA bus travelling at a much faster 15mph.

The driver in the Driverless Google car explained that he thought that the bus would slow and let the car continue, and that is why he didn’t override the car and takeover. This rare incident took place in Mountain View, a stones-throw away Google's headquarters.

In a recent statement, Google explained: "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." Google’s self-driving cars have notched up over 1 million miles across various states in North America, and up to now only minor incidents have been reported. All previous incidents and collisions have been blamed solely on road users.

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"The Google AV [autonomous vehicle] 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," the report said.

"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.

"The Google AV was operating in autonomous mode and travelling at less than two mph, and the bus was travelling at about 15mph at the time of contact." The presence of sandbags on the road made the situation more complex than it should have been.

Google announced that it had now further refined the AV self-driving algorithm.

"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."

If the DMV considers the Google car to be at fault for the collision, it could be seen as a setback for the company's ambitious autonomous vehicle plans.