Google self-driving car in collision with a bus
The fact that a Google self-driving car was in collision with a bus, and has effectively admitted that it was at fault, may set back the time when these are seen on our roads in numbers. This is a blow for the company which had reached a breakthrough with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who were considering giving the self-driving computer the same legal treatment as a human driver.
This is not of course the first time that one of these vehicles has been involved in a crash, but it is the first time that the self-driving vehicle has actually caused one. As a result of this, Google are to meet up with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Californian section, with a view to see where the blame actually lies and to generally discuss the whole incident.
We understand that the self-driving car was moving at about 2 miles per hour when it pulled out in front of a bus, this was travelling at 15 miles per hour. The Google car had a human on board as it is required to do, but he believed that the bus would slow down for it and made no attempt to override the computer in the self-drive car.
Whilst they have not exactly fully admitted responsibility, Google did say that if their car had not moved there would have been no collision. The person went on to say that the test driver thought the bus would stop or slow for them to allow them out. Pointing out that they believe there was plenty of space to carry out that manoeuvre.
It is a policy of Google to release statements on a monthly basis in which it details the testing of its self-driving technology, but in this instance, the Department of Motor Vehicles made it public ahead of the February report. In this report by the Department they said: “The Google Autonomous Vehicle (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.” They also conceded that the Google AV’s movement were hampered by sandbags, these made it more complex.
Responding Google has said that they are redefining their self-driving algorithm, from now on they said their cars will understand that buses as well as many other large vehicles are not likely to give way. They hope that now the cars will handle these situations better.
More worrying for Google though is that if the DMV consider that the Google AV was at fault, this could be seen as a major setback for the ambitions the company has for its autonomous vehicle future plans.
Google cars have been involved in some minor accidents, nothing serious and in all cases it seems that the fault was always due to the other vehicle. Google self-driving cars have so far clocked up over a million miles across a number of US states.