A new video shows the very first accident caused by a Google self-driving car after several years of testing on public roads.
While the online giant’s autonomous vehicle fleet has been involved in a number of collisions in the past, the company had always blamed other drivers. Not now, as for the first time, Google accepted at least partial responsibility for the crash that occurred on Valentine’s Day 2016 (Saturday, February 14) when a 2012 Lexus RX450h collided with a bus near its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Footage obtained by the Associated Press shows the car sitting in the left-most lane, when the bus approached from behind. The software in the Google car encountered some sandbags surrounding a manhole in the street, meaning the vehicle had to maneuver left. While it did pick up the oncoming bus coming from behind, it incorrectly anticipated the bus would come to a halt or yield to the Lexus. The bus did not do either of those things, resulting in the unwanted romantic encounter.
This has critics up in arms, including Consumer Watchdog project director John Simpson, who told the LA Times: “This accident is more proof that robot car technology is not ready for auto pilot and a human driver needs to be able to take over when something goes wrong,”
For its part, Google had the following to say :
“This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day. This is a classic example of the negotiation that’s a normal part of driving — we’re all trying to predict each other’s movements. In this case, 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.”
Check out the video below to see the driver’s reaction and the ensuing carnage to the Lexus’ front left panel and the bus rear door.
By Mitchell Jones