The case is thought to be the first of its kind, where an autonomous auto has hit another vehicle. The incident is seen as the first case in which the fault is that of the self-driving auto. “This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day”, Google said as part of its monthly report on autonomous driving. At that time, the driverless cars had traveled safely for more than 1.8 million miles. The auto, a Lexus RX450h, attempted to turn in the right lane at an intersection when it found its route blocked by sandbags around a storm drain.
During this incident, the Google auto moved to the right-hand side of the lane to maneuver by other cars in the same lane that were stopped at a red light.
Three seconds later, as the Google vehicle in self-driving mode re-entered the center of the lane, it struck the side of the bus, causing damage to the front and side of the bus.
No injuries were reported in the crash, a DMV report on which was made public online Monday.
As per Google, the vehicle was travelling at the speed of less than 2 miles per hour and on the other hand, the bus was moving at the speed of around 15 miles per hour.
The vehicle and the test driver “believed the bus would slow or allow the Google (autonomous vehicle) to continue”, it said. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will be looking into this matter in a bid to determine the liability.
“This accident is more proof that robot vehicle technology is not ready for auto pilot, and a human driver needs to be able to takeover when something goes wrong”, said John M. Simpson, the group’s consumer advocate, in a statement.
The firm added it has tweaked the self-driving code to take into account bus movements in the future. State law requires the driver who is monitoring the test vehicle to grab the wheel and take control when needed. While 272 of those times were due to technical glitches, the remaining 69 were based on drivers’ decisions to avoid potential collisions.
While the report does not address fault, Google said in a written statement, “We clearly bear some responsibility, because if our auto hadn’t moved there wouldn’t have been a collision”.
“We hope we can handle such situations more gracefully in future”, Google said.