Google Self-Driving Car Hits Bus in CA, Judged ‘At Fault’ In Accident
After six years and nearly a million miles of testing, there have been 17 accidents involving Google's self-driving cars. 16 were found to be the 'human' driver's fault in the other vehicle, but this time, the computer slipped up.
Google reported this week back on February 14th, a Google self-driving Lexus model hit a San Francisco city bus, but only at a whopping speed of two miles per hour. The bus was traveling at 15 miles an hour, when the Lexus, moving very slowly, attempted to merge into the bus lane.
Google officials say the computer may have become 'confused' by some sandbags that had been placed to help mark some construction, they call it 'compromised' road conditions. The test car should have backed off and not attempted to marge, but officials admit it made the wrong decision.
Previously, the 16 other accidents involving self-driving test vehicles were nearly all rear-end collisions, where human drivers thought the Google car would proceed faster into intersection areas, and they hit the back of the test car.
Google says this time, the computer did make the wrong decision. Considering multiple test vehicles have logged nearly a million miles, 17 minor accidents could be considered remarkable. But considering that Google eventually wants these driverless cars to be WITHOUT steering wheels, gas, or brake pedals - a thought that sends shudders through some automotive experts and critics.
Google defends the idea, saying data and computer simulations show thousands of lives would be saved every year by self-driving cars. The cars currently being tested do have all standard equipment, and in case of dire emergency, the human on board can take control. However, in this latest accident, the driver did not.
They say it's part of the 'guessing game' that takes place every day on the road, where drivers must attempt to anticipate what other motorists are going to do. Google says the computer does a better job of that than many drivers. Since 2012, California has been conducting an official government-supported testing program, signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
There was no comment from the car about this latest wreck, and officials have not said if the car or the driver will receive any citation for failure to yield.