Car Industry

Red-light runner positively creams Google's self-driving Lexus

Once again, human error claims the life of another defenseless robot.

Google

That'll buff out.

Ron van Zuylen (@grommet), via Twitter

Google's self-driving car accidents are usually so minor, we don't learn about them until Google itself reports them. This latest collision, though, which involves a self-driving Lexus and an Interstate Batteries van, is so gnarly that there was no waiting around.

The fender-bender happened in Mountain View, California. The driver of the company van blew a red light and collided with the self-driving Lexus SUV, which was passing through the intersection in autonomous-driving mode (although there was a driver behind the wheel). The damage, as you can see, was so bad that airbags went off and the car had to be towed away.

For what it's worth, the self-driving software did detect the red-light runner, and both it and the human driver attempted to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. There's no getting out of the way of human stupidity, though. A Google spokesperson told The Guardian that the light was green for at least six seconds, which means the van driver was rather inattentive.

While Google's had its fair share of small collisions over the 2 million or so miles its cars have driven, this one is pretty high up on the spectrum of seriousness. Of those fender-benders, only one was the fault of the self-driving car, and the system was patched shortly thereafter to help prevent the issue from happening again.