One of Google’s self-driving cars stuck a municipal bus near San Francisco earlier this month, marking the first case in which an autonomous car struck another vehicle, the company has disclosed.
The accident happened on the afternoon of February 14 when a Lexus RX450h was driving on State Route 82 in Mountain View when it struck a municipal bus as it tried to avoid sandbags that were blocking its path near an intersection.
“After a few cars had passed, the Google AV (autonomous vehicle) began to proceed back into the center of the lane to pass the sand bags,” said Chris Urmson, Director of Self-Driving Cars at Google. “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 3 seconds later, as the self-driving car reentered the center of the lane, the vehicle made contact with the side of the bus, causing damage to both vehicles. No one was injured in the accident, which happened just 3 miles from Google’s headquarters.
The accident was disclosed on Monday when Google filed a report with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), marking the first time that an autonomous car struck another vehicle while operating on public roads. Although there have been accidents before, none were caused by a self-driving car.
Google acknowledged in a statement that it “clearly” bears some responsibility for the accident, but emphasized that it has made “refinements” to its software to avoid a recurrence. ” 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,” the statement said.
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