The head of Google’s autonomous programme gave detailed information regarding the minor accident from February between one of its self-driving cars and a bus.

Testing self-driving technology on public roads is a crucial step for the deployment of autonomous cars and Google have done so far around 1.4 million miles of such trials. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and one of company’s smart vehicle made an error of judgment on February 14 when a Lexus RX 450h packed with sensors crashed at low speed into a city bus in Mountain View, California. Speaking about the incident at Austin’s SXSW festival, Chris Urmson – the head of Google’s self-driving project – explained the circumstances of the incident.

While the RX was planning to take a right turn form the rightmost lane, its sensors detected some sandbags on the road, thus it decided to stop and wait for the lane next to it to clear. When the traffic light turned green, Google’s car used its “eyes” to look back to “see” if the road was clear, but the computer sensed a bus approaching. The Lexus RX 450h made some calculations and assumed the bus is not going to fit the lane and “thought” it would slow down. At the same time, the bus driver also made the assumption that he has enough room to pass and believed Google’s cars wound not go in front of him. However, the RX kept moving and hit the side of the bus at about 2 mph. After this incident, Urmson said Google implemented 3,500 new tests to make sure there this won’t happen again.


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