Google’s self-driving cars learned an important lesson about driving near buses

Self-driving car
A Google self-driving car Google

Google recently taught its self-driving cars an important lesson about buses: They’re less likely to yield.

That’s the company’s conclusion after one of its autonomous vehicles crashed into the side of public transportation bus in Mountain View, California, prompting it to make “refinements” to its software.

“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,” the company writes in it February autonomous vehicle report, according to Engadget.

This was the first accident where Google admitted that its self-driving car was at fault, rather than the accident being caused by other human drivers.

The incident in question occurred on Valentine’s Day after Google’s car had followed the “social norm” of pulling to the rightmost side of its lane to prepare for a turn. However, the car discovered sandbags blocking its way in front of a storm drain, so it needed to merge back into the center of the lane. In slowly doing so, it hit the bus, according to the DMV traffic report Google about the crash.

Google says its test driver had allowed Google’s car to make the move despite seeing the bus coming, because he or she expected the bus to slow or stop.

“This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day,” Google writes.

The company says that it hopes that the refinements it made to its software will help it “handle situations like this more gracefully in the future.”

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