Alphabet, the parent company of Google, filed an accident report with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. While the company's self-driving cars have been involved in accidents before, this case is unique as it is the first where the car may be at fault.
The self-driving car drove into the side of a bus at low speed, resulting in a minor fender-bender. According to the report, the self-driving car attempted to merge back into traffic and falsely assumed the bus would yield. The human test driver also expected the bus to slow or stop and did not intervene.
A Google Lexus-model autonomous vehicle ("Google AV") was traveling in autonomous mode eastbound on El Camino Real in Mountain View in the far right-hand lane approaching the Castro St. intersection. As the Google AV approached the intersection, it signaled its intent to make a right turn on red onto Castro St. The Google AV 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.
However, the Google AV had to come to a stop and go around sandbags positioned around a storm drain that were blocking its path. When the light turned green, traffic in the lane continued past the Google AV. After a few cars had passed, the Google AV began to proceed back into the center of the lane to pass the sand bags. A public transit bus was approaching from behind. The Google AV test driver saw the bus approaching in the left side mirror but believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google AV to continue.
Approximately three seconds later, as the Google AV was reentering the center of the lane it made contact with the side of the bus. The Google AV was operating in autonomous mode and traveling at less than 2 mph, and the bus was travelling at about 15 mph at the time of contact.
The Google AV sustained body damage to the left front fender, the left front wheel and one of its driver’s -side sensors. There were no injuries reported at the scene.
The search giant will meet with the California DMV to determine who was at fault.