Google’s self-driving cars no longer have a flawless driving history.
A self-driving Lexus RX outfitted with Google’s autonomous technologies hit the side of a bus on Valentine’s Day, marking the first time a Google self-driving car has caused a crash. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority released video footage and post-crash photos this week to The Associated Press under a public records request.
Although the accident occurred at about 15 mph, the self-driving car had to be towed after its front tire was flattened and the front driver side was damaged. Neither the Google employee in the driver’s seat or the 16 passengers on the bus were injured.
Based on an accident report Google filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the Lexus intended to turn right off a major boulevard but stopped after it had detected sandbags around a storm drain near the intersection. To avoid driving over the sandbags, the Lexus needed to slide to its left within the lane and when the light turned green, the self-driving car’s software and the person in the driver’s seat believed the bus would let the Lexus into the flow of traffic.
The report says the Google employee did not try to intervene before the crash. “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,” Google said.