A new video showing Google’s self-driving car crashing into a bus in Mountain View, California, has been uploaded on the internet.
The Associated Press obtained the video and uploaded it on YouTube on March 9. It was the same crashing accident reported by multiple sources back in February. Shortly after the incident, a GIF showing the exact moment when the bus hit the Google self-driving car went its rounds on the internet. The video released by the Associated Press shows more footage of the incident, which includes surveillance video from the bus involved and images showing the damages sustained by the Google car.
As expected, the accident involving Google’s self-driving car raised safety concerns among the general public. According to a survey released Tuesday by AAA, three out of four Americans say they’re afraid of riding inside self-driving cars, as reported by Auto Blog.
John Nielsen, the managing director of automotive engineering and repair, said in a statement that while it’s understandable for most drivers to fear the idea of riding in self-driving cars, the technology used in autonomous vehicles is constantly improving.
“With the rapid advancement towards autonomous vehicles, American drivers may be hesitant to give up full control,” said Nielsen. “What Americans may not realize is that the building blocks towards self-driving cars are already in today’s vehicles and the technology is constantly improving and well-trusted by those who have experienced it.”
While it’s true that there have been accidents involving autonomous cars in the past, the majority of them have been caused by standard drivers committing minor mistakes on the road. To date, Google’s self-driving cars have been involved in accidents 11 times, as reported in ZDNET.
As seen in the YouTube video shown above, the self-driving Google car was preparing to do a right turn until the sensors detected sandbags surrounding a storm drain, causing it to stop. Like any responsible driver would have done, the Google car waited while other vehicles passed. When the Google self-driving car angled back towards the center lane at around 2 mph, it slammed into the side of a passing bus travelling at 15 mph.
According to “Google’s Self-Driving Car February Report,” the accident occurred because the Google self-driving car expected the bus to yield. Google took responsibility for the accident via the report (since the crash wouldn’t have happened if the self-driving car didn’t move) but added that it was caused by a fault in predicting each other’s movements, which is something that happens between two human drivers on a regular basis.
“Our test driver, who had been watching the bus in the mirror, also expected the bus to slow or stop. And we can imagine the bus driver assumed we were going to stay put. Unfortunately, all these assumptions led us to the same spot in the lane at the same time. This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day.
“This is a classic example of the negotiation that’s a normal part of driving — we’re all trying to predict each other’s movements. In this case, 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.”
Google has reviewed the incident and has taken the necessary steps to improve their software.
“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,” Google’s report said.
[Photo by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority/AP]