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March 1, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 8:10am

Google self-driving car causes accident for the first time, crashes into public bus

News: Google admits partial blame for the crash, reprograms cars in efforts to avoid a repeat accident.

By Ellie Burns

A recent crash which involved a bus in California may be the first time Google’s self-driving cars have caused an accident.

The crash happened on February 14, near Mountain View where the Google headquarters are located, when a Google car pulled out in front of a public bus. The car was travelling at 2mph, while the bus was reportedly going 15mph. The human sitting in the Google car failed to override the car’s self-driving computer after assuming that the bus would slow down to let the car out.

A traffic incident filing, made public by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), read: "The Google AV test driver saw the bus approaching in the left side mirror but believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google AV to continue.

"Approximately three seconds later, as the Google AV was re-entering the centre of the lane it made contact with the side of the bus."

Although no injuries were reported, Google will meet with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to see where the blame lies and discuss the incident in more detail.

In a statement about the crash, Google said: "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."

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This is not the first time that Google self-driving cars have been involved in accidents, though Google claims that previous incidents were not caused by the self-driving cars. Google says only minor collisions have been reported, despite the autonomous cars having clocked up over a million miles across various US states.

Hoping for no repeat incidents like the bus crash in California, Google said: "From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future."


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