Google's self-driving car has caused an accident

Posted at 2:28 PM, Feb 29, 2016

According to a number of reports, one of Google’s self-driving cars has caused an accident for the first time.



According to the accident report made public by The Verge, the Google’s autonomous Lexus RX50 sideswiped a public transit bus in Santa Clara, Calif earlier this month. The Google car was attempting to avoid a group of sandbags in the roadway, and assumed the bus would yield.

The Google car was only traveling 2 mph during the accident. No injuries were reported.

Though the Feb. 14 accident wasn’t the first that included a Google driverless car, it marked the first time that the tech giant had claimed some responsibility for an accident. All other accidents involving Google’s autonomous vehicles were caused by the driver in the other car.

In a statement, Google said the accident was caused by a common problem that affects thousands of drivers every single day: a simple misunderstanding.

"Our car had detected the approaching bus, but predicted that it would yield to us because we were ahead of it. (You can read the details below in the report we submitted to the CA DMV.)

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."

Google has said in the past that when their autonomous cars become available for commercial purchase, they will take responsibility if their technology is at fault.

Read the full accident report below.


Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.