Google has been testing its autonomous car on public road since a few years ago. It was reported that even though minor accidents happened, a human driver was actually the one who controlled the vehicle when they happened as mandated by the government. However, recently, one of Google’s self driving cars has gotten into accident while it was in autonomous mode.
It was happened on one of Google’s Lexus-model autonomous vehicle that was used for testing on public road. As the car was moving in autonomous mode eastbound on El Camino Real in Mountain View in the far right-hand land approaching the Castro St. intersection, it signalled its intention to make a right turn on red onto Castro St. The autonomous vehicle 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. It was then stopped and went around sandbags positioned around a storm drain that were blocking its path.
When the traffic turned green, traffic in the lane continued to pass Google’s autonomous vehicle. Only after a few cars have passed, it began to proceed back into the centre lane to pass the sand bags. At that time, a public transit bus was seen approaching from behind and the Google Autonomous Vehicle test driver assumed that the bus would stop or slowed down to give way for the Google’s self driving car, however, it did not happened. Approximately three seconds later, when Google’s Autonomous Vehicle was about to re-enter the centre of the lane, it hit the side of the bus.
Google’s testing car was in autonomous mode and travelling at less than 2 mph while the bus was travelling at about 15mph at the time of contact. The Google AV suffered from damages to the left front fender, the left front wheel and one of its driver’s side sensors however, it was reported that there were no injuries at the scene.
It was definitely one of those cases which could be categorized as the borderline case and made self driving car to be difficult to build. However, as it was happened during the testing, therefore, the engineers will have plenty of time to think about the solution before the official launch date.