As first reported by The Verge yesterday, Google's monthly self-driving car report for February — published today — offers details of the very first collision involving one of its cars that it's responsible for. Fortunately, it was a relatively minor crash, caused when one of Google's Lexus RX SUVs sideswiped a bus at low speed while attempting to merge into traffic. "Our car had detected the approaching bus, but predicted that it would yield to us because we were ahead of it," the report reads.
The entire report is devoted to this one incident, likely because of its significance: Google had long held up its lack of caused collisions as a rallying point, but realistically, it was only a matter of time before something went wrong. As the company mentions in the report, a large part of the car's job is managing relationships with the human drivers around it — and in this case, the management of that relationship failed. It notes that has "made refinements" to the software after reviewing the crash and says that it hopes "to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future," but realistically, there will always be some degree of uncertainty — at least as long as human drivers are on the road.
The report also has updated statistics for miles driven: Google cars have covered 1.45 million miles in autonomous mode since 2009 and another million in manual mode. There's now one Lexus RX operating in Kirkland, Washington — Google's latest self-driving test city — but no Google-built prototype vehicles yet.