Google could once brag that its self-driving cars were never responsible for the accidents they were involved in (instead always blaming the other “human” driver) — until now.
On Valentine’s Day, Google’s self-driving car caused a slight fender-bender. The car was driving in the rightmost lane when it noticed a sandbag blocking its path. It tried to move around the sandbag by entering the left lane and merging in front of a bus it believed would stop or slow for the self-driving vehicle. Unfortunately, the bus didn’t stop quick enough and the car collided with it, damaging "the left front fender, the left front wheel, and one of the driver's side sensors." No injuries were reported from the accident.
In response to the accident, Google said it would adjust its programming for self-driving cars to understand that larger vehicles are less likely to yield in those situations.
The car’s simple assumption that the bus would wait is oddly reminiscent of basic human error. This lapse in judgment doesn’t bode well for Google as most drivers would hope for a self-driving vehicle that would be overwhelmingly more cautious and precise than a human driver — not one capable of the same mistakes.
Banner image credit: Reuters