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Google self-driver hits bus, “a learning experience”, says company

A GOOGLE self-driving car has sideswiped a bus in the first blemish on the otherwise spotless driving record of the company’s vehicles.

Google says the crash was a misunderstanding and a learning experience. Its cars will learn that large vehicles are less likely to yield than other types of vehicles.

“We hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future,” Google said in a monthly report. “We clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn’t moved there wouldn’t have been a collision.

Google’s 53 vehicles have driven more than 1.4 million miles autonomously and been in 17 crashes, but never been at fault before.

The crash took place at 3:20pm February 14, about 5 kilometres from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, The Washington Post reports.

Google’s car was attempting to make a right-hand turn on red, and moved to the right side of a wide lane on El Camino Real to pass traffic stopped at the light according to a report Google filed with the California DMV.

But as Google’s car neared the intersection of Castro Street, its path was blocked by sandbags around a storm drain. It tried to go around the sandbags by cutting into the line of vehicles on the left side of the lane.

Instead, it struck a metal piece connecting the two halves of an accordion-style bus, according to a Valley Transportation Authority spokeswoman.

Google self driving car after hitting a bus in California. Image: YouTube

Google self driving car after hitting a bus in California. Image: YouTube

Google said its car was going less than 4 kilometres per hour and the bus was moving at 24 kmh. Both parties said there were no injuries and described the crash as minor.

Google’s self-driving cars have two employees present, and they are trained to intervene to prevent crashes. Earlier this year, Google revealed that 13 times over a 14-month span, its drivers had to intervene to prevent crashes.

In the February14 crash, Google said its test driver thought the bus would slow or stop so the Google car could go ahead of it.


About Nigel Andretti

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