Google may not be the only company workling on autonomous vehicles at this point, but it’s certainly one of the companies whose work is more in the public eye. As part of Google’s ongoing testing and research & development, they put out monthly incident reports that detail any time their vehicles are involved in traffic accidents, but up until now all incidents are said to have been caused by the human element, essentially the test driver behind the wheel who is there to take over in the event that something goes wrong during testing. In the most recent incident report filed with the California DMV, it sounds as if one of Google’s autonomous cars has just caused its very first crash.
As pointed out in the report, Google’s Lexus model autonomous vehicle made a judgement that a bus which was attempting to travel in the same lane and was approaching from behind would slow down and allow the autonomous vehicle to enter the lane. The report states that the driver also believed this to be the outcome, but unfortunately, the bus continued to travel on route as did the autonomous vehicle which resulted in the Google’s self-driving car hitting the side of the bus at a speed of 2mph while the bus was travelling at about 15mph.
The report states that the vehicle was operating in autonomous mode, which means it wasn’t being handled by the test driver inside of the vehicle at the time of the collision. The good news is that the report mentions no injuries were reported at the scene, which likely bodes well for the situation and the reputation of Google’s self-driving car development. At the same time, the incident also has the potential to raise awareness at just how much more work is left to be done before autonomous vehicles are really ready to be on the road with complete and total control. While there were no injuries sustained at the scene, there was damage sustained to the Google autonomous vehicle on the front left fender as well as one driver-side sensor and the left front wheel.