With the growing control of technology in our daily lives, human efforts have taken a back seat. Same is the case in automobiles where the growing involvement of technology has brought us to a point where everyone is talking about self-driving or autonomous cars, a concept (which has become more of a reality now) where the car self drives itself and the human just sits and relax.
Google, the global technology giant is at the forefront of autonomous cars and has reached a stage where their autonomous cars can be seen plying on the roads in the U.S. And with more 2 million kilometers successful testing under their portfolio certainly makes them the most advanced companies testing the autonomous cars. But an incident on February 14 this year has raised questions about the project's viability.
On the Valnetine's Day of 2016, one of the Google’s self-driving Lexus RX 450h crashed with a city bus in Mountain View, California. Luckily, the incident took place at very less speed and caused only small damages to the car's body without any injuries to anyone. The incident created a lot of anger among those who are lobbying against self-driving cars and also those who are looking upto Google for creating the future of automobiles.
After one-month of silence, Google's self-driving car project director Chris Urmson has come forward and explained what happened that day. Speaking at Austin's SXSW festival, Urmson detailed what actually happened during the first collision of Google’s driverless cars, which has covered a combined of 2.2 million kilometers without any scuffle.
According to Urmson, Google cars are programmed to be on the rightmost lane whenever taking a right turn, and hence RX was there. While the car was ready to take right and started moving, it noticed a pile of sandbags on the curb and decided to stop to avoid collision. The light turns green and Lexus started moving again when its back camera noticed a bus on its tail.
The onboard computers made the calculations and figured out that since the bus is big, it doesn't have enough room to fit, and it will slow down. On the other hand, the driver of the bus confident enough to get pass the narrow gap and thought that the Lexus will stay put. Both of them presumed each other move and autonomous Lexus moved, ultimately hitting the side of the bus.
But it isn't like Google is writing-off this incident as one-of-its kind and not working on it. Chris Urmson says that they have thoroughly analyzed the incident and Google has already implemented 3,500 new tests to make sure there won’t be a second time.
You can watch the attached video above to know exactly what happen. Jump to 21.40 minutes where Urmson details the incident.