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Google's Self-Driving Car Involved In Another Road Accident

Google’s Self-Driving Car Involved In Another Road Accident

Reports indicate that the autonomous vehicle was not at fault

Google’s self-driving Lexus RX450h hybrid SUV was involved in a car accident near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California after a commercial van ran a red light on an intersection and blowing through the side of the SUV, causing significant damage to the car. Fortunately, neither the truck driver nor the human driver on-board the RX450h were hurt from the incident.

The tech giant was quick to release a statement about the crash, emphasizing that the self-driving car wasn’t at fault of the crash. According to the statement, the self-driving car’s traffic light was at green “for at least six seconds” before it entered the intersection. The car, which was piloting itself at the time of accident, was going about its business when the van ran its red light. The driver inside the SUV ultimately applied the brakes but it was too late as the van hit the SUV clean in the side, resulting in the latter to have to towed away in a flatbed trailer.

Incidents like this have already plagued Google’s development of autonomous driving technology, including multiple instances wherein its cars have been rear-ended in slow-moving traffic. This particular incident though is the first time one of the tech’s giants self-driving cars has figured into a high-speed crash.

Google is expected to release a more detailed report about the crash towards the end of the month, but the incident also highlights one of the significant challenges attributed to the development of autonomous driving vehicles. As advanced as these cars are expected to become, they still can’t account for the behavior of other drivers on the road, particularly those who don’t pay as much attention on the road when they’re driving as they should.

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Google Exec Explains Crash Caused By Autonomous Vehicle

Google Exec Explains Crash Caused By Autonomous Vehicle

Lesson learned for the Big G

Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car project, took the stage at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas to shed some light on the circumstances surrounding the road accident caused by one of the tech giant’s autonomous vehicles. Word of the crash only made the news last week even though the actual collision between Google’s self-driving Lexus RX and a city transit bus occurred on February 14, 2016.

At the conference, Urmson explained that all of Google’s autonomous vehicles have been taught to move to the right-most lane when they plan to turn right, something all human drivers are also taught to do. The RX did just that, but just before it was supposed to turn right, it detected sand bags on the road ahead it, prompting it to make a sudden stop.

Once the light turned green, the car prepared to take the lane to the left, but not before detecting a city bus that it anticipated would slow down to give way to the car. But the bus didn’t slow down and just as the car was making the lane change, it hit the side of the bus at two mph, resulting in minor damages to both vehicles.

No one was injured from the mishap, but seeing as Google assumed responsibility for causing the crash, Urmson’s team immediately began implementing “3,500 new tests” to ensure that its autonomous cars wouldn’t be responsible for another crash of that nature again. These tests don’t cover the system of just one autonomous vehicle. On the contrary, the self-driving team said that the tech is fed through its fleet of autonomous cars through deep learning technology, enabling all the Google cars to share these tests and experiences from real-world driving situations. The tech giant believes that situations like the one can be used as a learning tool for its entire fleet of cars, ensuring that it doesn’t happen again.

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Google's Self-Driving Lexus RX Crashes Into Commuter Bus

Google’s Self-Driving Lexus RX Crashes Into Commuter Bus

Tech giant admits to shouldering "some responsibility" for the crash

One of Google’s self-driving vehicles, in this case a Lexus RX, figured into an accident with a transit bus last February 14, 2016 in Mountain View, California. Ironically, the crash occurred within a cartwheel’s distance of the tech giant’s headquarters.

The crash occurred when the autonomous SUV attempted to switch lanes to avoid some sand bags, incorrectly assuming that the bus approaching from behind would either slow down or stop completely to let the car make the lane switch. Neither ended up happening and the RX smacked right into the side of the bus. The RX ended up damaging its front fender, wheel, and a self-driving sensor.

Thankfully, the crash happened at low speeds – the autonomous SUV was angling towards the center lane at two mph while the bus was traveling at 15 mph. Nobody was hurt from the accident and all the passengers of the bus were transferred to a new bus to continue their commute.

Google has since released a statement, saying that it shouldered “some responsibility” for the accident, saying that it could’ve avoided the ordeal entirely if it had just waited for the bus to pass before making the lane switch. That said, it also chalked up the incident to a simple “misunderstanding” that happens routinely on the road every day in all parts of the world.

Since the accident, Google also said that it had reviewed the incident and has made important refinements to its software so that its cars have a clearer understanding of the behavior of public transit vehicles in cases like the one it was involved in.

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Video: Lexus IS-F drift goes wrong even before it starts

Video: Lexus IS-F drift goes wrong even before it starts

Sometimes, explanations aren’t really needed; you just watch a video of inane dumbassery and you pretty much get the picture of how something goes horribly wrong.

In the case of the driver of this Lexus IS-F, drifting probably isn’t in his future. That or he just made a pretty silly mistake from the get go.

The scene is the 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon and the IS-F was supposed to do a drifting demonstration in front of a gathered crowd. It starts well enough, but even before the first tire screams and the first smoke is emitted, the driver loses control of the IS-F and rides the cement barricade, obliterating a number of miniature traffic cones in the process.

We don’t know how it went wrong all of a sudden, but it is pretty embarrassing for the dude behind the wheel of the IS-F. Here you are expected to wow a crowd with your supposedly sick drifting skills, but instead, you end up being the butt of jokes and a permanent resident of You Tube’s crack list of "Fail!" videos.

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Toyota chief test driver dies in LF-A Nurburgring Edition crash

Toyota chief test driver dies in LF-A Nurburgring Edition crash

Today is a black day for Toyota! A Lexus LF-a Nurburgring Edition test drive ended up in tragedy. The supercar crashed a few kilometers from the Nurburgring test track, killing the driver. While previous rumors did not reveal the identity of the driver, they did report that it was a 67 year-old man. Now a German magazine reports that the driver was indeed Hiromu Naruse, Toyota’s chief test driver.

The other car involved in the accident was a BMW 3-Series sedan. Both the driver and the passengers are in serious condition at the hospital.

The first details of the accident stated that Naruse was taking the turn at a high rate of speed and crossed into the opposing lane, but the police are still investigating.

As a fatal premonition, Naruse said on May 26: "When we raced the LFA in Nardo, Italy, I thought I might not return to Japan alive. The purpose of this ‘test’ was to evaluate the car’s durability at 200 mph for a long period. The race was in the dark with no lights on the track, plus there were birds flying at me – and imagine if a tire burst! We created the final LFA through these kinds of test experiences."

Our thoughts are with the friends and families of the people involved in this terrible tragedy.

Video after the jump.

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