AP has obtained surveillance video from inside the Mountain View public transit bus at the time it was struck by one of Google's autonomous Lexus RX SUVs, the first time one of the company's self-driving cars has been directly responsible for a crash on public roads. In the video, you can make out the outline of the white SUV glancing off the right side of the bus, followed by the (naturally) surprised reaction of the bus driver, who stops and gets out to check on the damage.
In the wake of the accident, Google acknowledged its role in causing the crash, noting that the car "predicted that [the bus] would yield to us because we were ahead of it."
"Unfortunately, all these assumptions led us to the same spot in the lane at the same time. This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day," Google's statement continued.
Fortunately, the crash occurred at low speeds: the bus was only going 15 miles per hour, while the SUV was moving at just 2 mph. More crashes involving autonomous vehicles are likely to occur as more manufacturers test more systems and drive more miles on public streets — in the absence of a completely predictable environment, self-driving cars are required to make some assumptions about the traffic flowing around them. On February 14th, Google's car just happened to make a bad call.