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Google's self-driving car at fault in minor accident involving public transit bus

By Shawn Knight ยท 22 replies
Feb 29, 2016
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  1. Google's self-driving vehicles have logged millions of hours on public roadways. Inevitably, they've also been involved in a handful of traffic accidents. Up to this point, however, Google says its autonomous vehicles have never been at fault in any of them.

    That claim no longer appears to be case.

    The Verge points to a report from the California DMV first spotted by Mark Harris that describes a recent incident involving one of Google's self-driving vehicles and a city bus. In it, Google describes an out-of-the-ordinary scenario in which one of its Lexus-model autonomous vehicles was attempting to merge back into traffic at a slow speed when it made contact with the side of a public transit bus.

    Google said its autonomous vehicle, which was in self-driving mode at the time, was traveling around 2 mph and the bus was going about 15 mph at the time of impact. The vehicle's safety driver saw the bus approaching from the rear but believed it would stop or slow to let the Google car continue.

    What makes the scenario unique is the fact that the right-hand lane on this particular street is wide enough to allow two lines of traffic. It's not uncommon for a vehicle attempting to turn off the road to hold up traffic and when that happens, drivers make full use of the wide lane and go around them.

    In a report on the matter, Google says its vehicle did just that but encountered some sandbags blocking its path near a storm drain. As such, it needed to merge back into "traffic" to go around it which is when the accident happened.

    Fortunately, there were no injuries reported at the scene.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +116

    The bus driver should have allowed the merge rather than being aggressive in this case.

    I'd be more interested in seeing the bus drivers record than google cars.
    wastedkill and Reehahs like this.
  3. I mentioned this before, but who is to take the punishment? The AI, the owner, Google etc.? It was inevitable that the car would eventually make a mistake.
    Robinson Ochoa likes this.
  4. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,891   +2,218

    I probably make more mistakes driving everyday than google vehicles have since their inception
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
    Robinson Ochoa likes this.
  5. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,376   +72

    Google's entire credit card (or even more credit card systems) were down saturday for the android google play store. Four people tried to buy one of my apps and their credit cards were declined. There have been at least 2 nationwide credit card processing outages in the last few months when trying to pay for me at dental school. They were hardly reported, but in my looking into it they are using verizon fios to access the internet on the east coast instead of a t1 or t2 line or whatever they use now, and verizon had outages in its fios on those days. This is like att's uverse system for internet, which are simply advanced dsl having some fiber, but some still with 2 wire pair like ours to the site/home. Certain things are inexpensive, but not the way to run credit card systems. With bank of america charging 21% interest on its credit card (actually illegal as it's called loan sharking if it's above 16%), you would think they would be able to afford more than dsl to power major banking systems.
    Robinson Ochoa likes this.
  6. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,546   +1,537

    Um... how does this belong in this thread?

    At least the error was at 2mph... I'd rather see tinpot collisions than someone being run over...
  7. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +116

    The person in the car at the time had the option of taking control, so it would be their fault that they did not.
    Raoul Duke likes this.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,389   +5,016

    In a true autonomous stage, no one will think about watching and second guessing the cars ability. These are testing conditions not mainstream. We all know that under testing conditions it will also be the copilots fault. Testing conditions is not the only reason for asking that question. At some point testing will be completed, and at that time who will then be to blame?
  9. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +116

    Why would it change? Under the law a deliberate inaction to prevent an otherwise preventable crime is a crime if said action does not place you in direct harm. Preventing an accident would most likely prevent harm.

    This little fender bender would not have occurred if the bus allowed the car to enter the lane as would have happened if the bus was also autonomous.
    wastedkill and Reehahs like this.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,389   +5,016

    You are failing to see one of the biggest advantages to autonomous vehicles. People who don't have authority to drive can be driven autonomously. And under this condition can not be charged because they are not even authorized to do so manually. And under this condition it would not be fair to charge anyone just because they are licensed and could control the car manually. I will never give control to a car if I am to be held responsible for any faults it may do automatically. I will however release the reigns, if I am no longer held responsible for the actions of someone Else's programming. What you are saying is borderline to charging all the passenger on a bus, because they could have thrown the driver out the door to prevent an accident.
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    I said in an earlier post that I was looking for a cheap shopping car so maybe I'll give one of these Google autonomous rides the once over instead of that Bugatti Chiron which is also ideal for that task, if a little pricey.
    Auth3ntic0, Technician and wastedkill like this.
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,987   +2,287

    Bus drivers of all type, from my experience anyway, often commit overtly aggressive acts - intentionally or not. In this case, the bus was approaching from the rear. From the info given in the article, it sounds like gagme's car had the right-of-way. If authorities concur, the bus driver will have a ticket to deal with.
  13. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +116

    You are assuming that. What I am saying is the buses need to be self driving as well.
  14. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 978   +324

    Well... if you want I am willing to drive you around in the Chiron :)
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  15. anguis

    anguis TS Enthusiast Posts: 85   +12

    It sounds like it was one lane, but a wide lane, in which the Google car was on the right and the bus was on the left (same lane mind you) and when an obstruction prevented the Google car to continue on the right side of the lane, it cautiously moved over. The bus didn't let the Google car (which, being ahead of the bus in the same lane, had the right of way) go ahead and the two collided. Doesn't sound like this is the Google car's fault at all. The bus driver made a mistake.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,389   +5,016

    That assertion can mean only one thing, Google's self driving car was once more not at fault.

    On a side note, I wonder if Google cars are programmed to give larger vehicles more respect? It is certainly more difficult for them to stop. Or does the Google Car's see everything as equals?
  17. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +116

    All it says is that either vehicle could have prevented it. The bus did not have to slow to allow the car to merge, but it could have and doing so would have prevented the collision.
  18. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,546   +1,537

    The article has already stated that the authorities have placed the blame on the Google Car... officially... as I'm sure most of us know, just because an accident is "officially" one person's fault, the REAL fault often lies with another party...

    I know that in Canada, if you rear end someone in the same lane as you, it's automatically your fault... you were following too closely if you didn't stop in time... But in reality, if you're on the highway and some ***** jams on his brakes for no reason and you hit him... it might be your fault officially - but we all know it's that bloody fool in front of you who was REALLY at fault...

    Looks like this is a similar case... officially, the Google Car is at fault - it tried to merge into a lane that a bus had right of way in... but the bus should have seen the car and slowed down - just because it didn't HAVE to doesn't mean it shouldn't have...

    Same thing for when a jaywalker crosses in front of you - technically, it's the pedestrian's fault when you hit him (or her)... but maybe you should have tried to stop?
  19. DeerSpotter

    DeerSpotter TS Rookie

    Honestly, I would love to get hit by a Google's Self Driving Car. Imagine, I can finally sell this piece of **** and buy a new one with the insurance money, and a settlement not to sue.
    dusseldorf likes this.
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,389   +5,016

    You should be a politician, that is if you are not, it seems to be in your blood.
  21. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,546   +1,537

    Yeah... but it would be your lawyers vs Google's lawyers... I don't like your chances...
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,958   +3,996

    I don't know where you get "politician". Our member sounds born and bred to be an ambulance chasing shyster. Who knows, maybe we'll see his photo on the side of that very same bus...,

    ."Injured in an accident? Get everything you're entitled to! Call DeerSpotter Esq Attorney at law"
  23. Curtisronin

    Curtisronin TS Rookie

    I dont think its the problem that accident actually occurred, the problem is that we know it was self driving car, although I must admit its impressive it still feels creepy, and I can imagine the bus drivers face. I read some place AI decided in a crash test, to save dozen people and sacrifice the driver. Its still creepy.

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