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Google self-driving car 'collided' with bus

Valvur, AndyMarch 1, 2016

A self-driving car being tested by Google was involved in a minor accident. It appears to be the first time one of the vehicles caused a crash during testing.

USA Google Lexus in Mountain View
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/T. Avelar

According to reports released Monday, a Google self-driving car has become the first ever to be involved in a fender-bender on a city street in Mountain View, California.

Google accepted at least some responsibility for the collision that occurred on February 14th, when one of the Lexus SUVs it has outfitted with sensors and cameras hit the side of a bus near the company's headquarters.

According to an accident report Google wrote and submitted to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, no one was injured. The report was posted online Monday.

In the incident, Google's car intended to turn right off a major boulevard when it detected sandbags around a storm drain at the intersection.

The right lane was wide enough to let some cars turn and others go straight. However, the Lexus needed to slide to its left within the right lane to get around the obstruction.

Slow-moving vehicles

The Lexus was going 2 mph (3 kph) when it made the move, and its left front fender struck the right side of the bus, which was going straight at 15 mph (24 kph).

Google said in the report that the car's test driver - who under state law must be in the front seat to grab the wheel when needed - thought the bus would yield and did not have control before the collision.

In an interview with the Associate Press, Chris Urmson, the head of Google's self-driving car project, said that he believed the Lexus was moving before the bus started to pass.

"We saw the bus, we tracked the bus, we thought the bus was going to slow down. We started to pull out - there was some momentum involved."

Stacey Hendler Ross, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, said the agency is reviewing the incident and hasn't reached any conclusions about liability.

The agency said none of the 15 passengers or the driver of the bus was injured.

Google's self-driving cars have been involved in nearly a dozen collisions in or around Mountain View since starting to test on city streets in the spring of 2014. In most cases, Google's cars were rear-ended, and the company claims it was not at fault in any of the previous accidents.

av/gsw (DPA, AP)