For likely the first time in history, an autonomous car has caused a traffic accident. Well, it’s at least partially at fault.
According to Forbes, a Lexus model Google car was driving in Mountain View, California on a public street when it approached a intersection that had some sandbags near a storm drain. The Google car switched lanes to avoid the sandbags but struck a public bus while trying reenter the center lane of the road.
The California Department of Motor Vehicle report on the crash said that the Google test driver saw the bus approaching but thought it would stop or allow the car to continue, but the autonomous car hit the side of the bus. The Google car was just going 2 mph and the bus was traveling at 15 mph. Google said in a statement that assumptions made by the test driver and probably the bus driver “led us to the same spot in the lane at the same time.”
“This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day,” Google said in the statement to Forbes. “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.”
The company said it reviewed the data from the crash in a simulator and has made changes in the software to avoid a similar accident. Google said its cars now have a better understanding of busses and large vehicles.