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Google Autonomous Vehicle Involved in a Car Accident, The Company Aims to Refine Its Software

March 2
6:42 AM 2016

A Google autonomous car has been involved in an accident when it hit a public transit bus. The first accident of the Lexus RX450h self-driving car happened in an intersection at Mountain View, California.

Before this incident, which happened last month, Google's autonomous cars has been involved in other accidents, only at the receiving end. In the accident report, it's described that as the Google autonomous vehicle approached an intersection in Mountain View, it signaled that it would make a right turn then moved to the right-hand side of the lane to pass traffic in the same lane that was stopped at the intersection and proceeding straight. After that, the car had to come to a stop and go around sandbags near a storm drain that were blocking its path. After the traffic light turned green and a few cars passed the autonomous vehicle, it proceeds back to the center of the lane to pass the sand bags.

A public transit bus was then approaching from behind, but the autonomous car seem to believe that the bus would stop or slow and allow the Google car to continue. However, seconds later as the autonomous vehicle was reentering the center of the lane at 2 mph the car made contact with the side of the bus. The bus was traveling at about 15 mph at that time.

Fortunately, the crash was not fatal and is considered a minor incident as there were no injuries. According to Independent, the accident caused damage to the left front fender, the front wheel, and a driver side sensor. 

CNBC reported Google's statement regarding the incident, whereas the company admitted partial responsibility for the accident. "In this case, we clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision," Google stated, adding that it has refined its software after the incident. "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."

According to Wired, Google's cars have driven more than 1.3 million miles since 2009. Per January, they had been involved in 17 crashes, but this was the first accident not caused by human error and had led Google to take some responsibility for the accident. Previously, Google predicted that their autonomous cars will be road-ready by 2020.

An accident caused by a Google autonomous car last month had led Google to reevaluate and refine its software. Although the incident is minor and no one was injured, that was the first accident ever caused by the software and not human error, and could probably shattered Google's optimism that their cars is close to perfection. 

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