Hahaha. The pointyheads in Mountain View must be feeling a bit dumb right now. One of their self driving cars has had a prang.
This possibility was, of course, was something I blogged about a good while ago,
but now life has imitated art, and John Krafcik and his merry men are a bit red-faced.
If you’re going to prang your car, you may as well make a go of it with something pricey. In this case it was a modified Lexus RX450h. This rolls off the production line at a useful 47 grand, before the cost of the modifications, which I suspect aren’t cheap. Way to go, Google.
What happened was the car was manoeuvring around some sandbags, which required it to move into the middle of the road. Unfortunately, the bit of road was already occupied by a bus. A bus, mind you. Not a Smart Car. A bus. Pretty substantial, and difficult not to see.
This is the best bit. The software on the car decided, in its infinite wisdom, that the bus would give way. It didn’t. This is a bit odd, because if I saw a self driving car I’d give it a very wide berth indeed. So the software was wrong, and so was the test driver who’s supposed to take control if things go squirly.
Nobody was hurt, but the Lexus sustained damage to a front wing (fender), a wheel, and one of the sensors. That’s going to cost a few bob down the bodyshop, and quite a lot a lot of damage considering the car was doing a mere 2 mph.
I appreciate the point of the road trials is to iron out the glitches, and ultimately show that self piloting cars are safer than those driven by humans. But as of right now, would you get in one when it just assumes a bus is going to give way or stop? Since when did any bus do that? Bus drivers are as nuts as cabbies.