Google has always stressed that their self-driving cars are safer than actual human-piloted ones. But according to an article in Re/code, on February 14 one of these cars was involved in an accident when it hit a bus in Mountain View, California.
The vehicle, a Lexus SUV, was waiting at an intersection to make a right turn, but due to the fact that the road was blocked by some sandbags, it ended up colliding with a bus while trying to move left to avoid the obstacle.
However, this is not the first time a Google self-driving car is involved in an accident. In fact they have been involved in a total of 17 since 2009 when the project started. But every time, Google claimed that the cars were not the source of the accident. This time they might just be it.
Re/code reports on the release statement explaining how this accident happened:
“Our test driver, who had been watching the bus in the mirror, also expected the bus to slow or stop. And we can imagine the bus driver assumed we were going to stay put. Unfortunately, all these assumptions 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.
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. That said, our test driver believed the bus was going to slow or stop to allow us to merge into the traffic, and that there would be sufficient space to do that.”