Google driverless car hits bus, stokes controversy

google car2CalWatchDog-The controversy over driverless cars shifted into high gear as an automated vehicle built by Google hit a passenger bus.

“The crash may be the first case of one of its autonomous cars hitting another vehicle and the fault of the self-driving car,” Reuters reported. “The Mountain View, California-based Internet search leader said it made changes to its software after the crash to avoid future incidents.”

The collision resulted from a confluence of atypical but not unusual circumstances on a roadway in Mountain View. Because of a sandbagged manhole, the car had to make a wider right turn at an intersection than it had originally planned to do. In the flow of traffic, the bus approached from behind. “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 concluded in its monthly report for February.

“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,” the report suggested. “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.”

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