On February 14, a Lexus RX450H SUV using Google’s self-driving technology was involved in a minor accident with a city bus in Mountain View, California (Google’s hometown). Google explains that the car was preparing to make a right turn on a city street, so it moved to the right side of the lane. Right before it could make the turn, “it moved back to the center of the lane to avoid sand bags that had been placed around a storm drain.” It was then that the bus, which was traveling behind the car, hit the left side of the car. The car was reported to be going a mere 2 mph and the bus was going 15 mph. It was essentially a fender bender; no one was injured and both vehicles came out with minimal damage.
The Lexus was one of many cars that Google owns and are being tested with to improve the company’s self-driving software. Each car has a test driver inside, ready to take control of the vehicle in case something goes wrong. In this case, the test driver thought the car would yield to avoid the collision with the bus, so he/she did not take the wheel.
Google filed a report to the California DMV, and accepted responsibility for the accident. Since then they claim to have changed the software to help prevent accidents like this from happening again.
Google’s self-driving cars have been involved in multiple accidents since they began testing in 2012. This case was the first time the software was the cause of the accident.