Google's Self-Driving Car Project hit a snag last month, when its Lexus RX450h SUV autonomous vehicle hit a bus near the tech company's hometown of Mountain View, Calif.
Google quickly reacted by making tweaks to its autonomous software to prevent such an issue from lingering into the future.
"We've now reviewed this incident (and thousands of variations on it) in our simulator in detail and made refinements to our software," Google said in a statement to Engadget at the time. "From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future."
Now, nearly a month after the accident, footage of the company's autonomous vehicle hitting a public bus has surfaced on the Internet — courtesy of the Associated Press, as posted by the Los Angeles Times. Watching the video below will give you more of a first-hand account of what went wrong during Google's autonomous testing on Valentine's Day, helping to add to the company's previous explanation.
The unexpected issue stemmed from sandbags being placed around a manhole in the self-driving vehicle's path, forcing it to react.
"The Google [car] test driver saw the bus approaching in the left side mirror but believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google [car] to continue," the company's February report said.
When the bus did neither, Google's car crashed into the side of it, with the autonomous vehicle taking the brunt of the punishment with its left front fender, left front wheel and driver's side sensors being damaged.
"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," Google's report continued. "This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day. 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. 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."
While the company's software adjustments should resolve parts of this issue, the question about how autonomous cars will adapt to unforeseen events on the road remains.
Perhaps Google will have more to say before Congress next Tuesday (March 15), when the director of its Self-Driving Car Project, Chris Urmson, testifies about efforts being taken to develop safe and effective autonomous vehicles.