Google Accepts “Some Responsibility” after Self-Driving Car’s First Accident


Google on Monday conceded that “some responsibility” is what the company bears following what may be the first accident involving its self-driving car and a municipal bus.

The minor crash took place mid-last month and in any case, it is the first case in which the Google car has been involved in an accident with another vehicle.

Google said that the accident took place on February 14 in Mountain View. While the company has always defended its vehicle’s reduced ability to cause accidents as compared to humans, this time, it seems the autonomous car was at fault. In the report filed on February 23, the search engine giant was clear that the Lexus RX450h involved in the accident was trying to evade some sandbags in a wide lane and in the process met its fate.

Nonetheless, the company claims that at the time of the accident, the Google car was moving at a speed of fewer than 2 miles per hour whereas the bus was at a speed of about 15 miles per hour. The autonomous car “believed that the bus would slow down or allow the Google car to continue,” the report said. However, in about three seconds, the accident had occurred just as the car re-entered the center of the lane. The Lexus car struck the side of the bus, but no one was injured in either vehicle except for the damages caused by the front wheel, left front fender and a driver side sensor.

In a statement regarding the case, Google said that it was willing to share part of the responsibility of the accident. “We clearly bear some responsibility,” a company statement read “because if our Google car had not moved, the collision would not have been there.”

Google car

The autonomous car also caused some minor damages to the bus as it stroke the pivoting joint. As a result, 15 passengers had to be transferred to another bus. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will be looking into this matter in a bid to determine the liability.

Google has already acted

Google cars are still being tested and now that this is the first accident it has had with another vehicle, the company says that it has already refined its software. The company now says that its cars will understand that buses are less likely to give way to them as opposed to other types of vehicles.

“We hope we can handle such situations more gracefully in future,” Google said.

In November, Google revealed that it has only been involved in about 17 minor accidents during its six years of self-driving project. During this time, the company says that it has covered over 2 million of both autonomous and manual driving.

In all 17 cases, “not once was the autonomous car at fault,” Google said back then.



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