Until recently, all accidents involving Google’s self-driving cars have been caused by human drivers. That is, until Valentine’s Day earlier this month.
According to an accident report filed with the California DMV, a Google self-driving car hit the side of a bus while it was attempting to merge lanes on February 14, 2016.
The report explains that the Google self-driving car, a Lexus RX450h, was stopped at red light before it tried to turn right after the street light turned green. It began to move to the center of the lane to make the right turn and get around some sandbags, just as a bus began approaching from behind.
The self driving car and the in-car driver saw the bus approaching, but the driver “believed the bus would slow or allow the Google [autonomous vehicle] to continue.” However, three seconds later, while Google’s car was still in autonomous mode, it hit the side of the bus.
Luckily, no one was hurt, except for the Google car, which saw damages to its left front fender, front wheel and a driver side sensor. Google’s car was only traveling at about 2 miles per hour (mph) and the bus at 15 mph.
The California DMV began publishing all accident reports involving self-driving cars in the state last year, showing that each accident had been caused by human error of one type or another.
While this may be the first accident a Google self-driving car has ever caused, it was a relatively small accident, in a situation where the in-car driver also assumed the autonomous mode was making the right decision.
We’ve contacted Google for comment and will update this piece should we hear from the firm.