Google reports it has gained insights concerning a Feb. 14 accident in which one of its autonomous vehicles (AVs) was hit by a city bus along a three-lane boulevard in Mountain View, CA.
Just before the collision, the self-driving car was in the right lane heading toward an intersection and had made a right-turn signal. Sandbags enclosing a storm drain caused the car to move left into the center of the wide lane while the bus was coming up from behind. The AV test driver assumed the bus would slow or stop, but seconds later the Google car struck the bus' side when it was reentering the center of the lane.
Google says the majority of the time the AVs drive in the middle of the lane but "when you're teeing up a right-hand turn in a lane wide enough to handle two streams of traffic, annoyed traffic stacks up behind you. So several weeks ago we began giving the self-driving car the capabilities it needs to do what human drivers do: hug the rightmost side of the lane."
Google admits some responsibility for the accident, and says it has since modified its AV software so "our cars will more deeply understand that buses [and other large vehicles] are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles."
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