Recently, a computer-driven Lexus controlled by Google’s autonomous technology had a collision with a commuter bus. It was deemed the first reported crash in which the computer was blamed. Google has since reprogrammed the software to not assume that larger vehicles will yield to smaller vehicles.
Ironically, Google just received a patent on bus detection for its autonomous cars. The patent was applied for a few years ago, but was just granted this March. It specifically applies to identification of a school bus, but could likely be tweaked to apply to any bus.
It is explained that the technology would assess the size of vehicles on the road and be able to differentiate other vehicles from a school bus based on size, color, stop sign, and the word “school”. Then, the software would be prepared to drive extra cautiously, check for the stop sign and follow the laws regarding school buses.
Technologies, patents, and software advancements such as this are happening daily and at a much quicker rate. Apple just received a patent involving buses and the use of iPhones to track and board on time. With the speculated release of the Apple Car at around 2019-2020, it will be telling to see what incredible technologies will be available and in use. One can only assume that by then, crash-“free” autonomous cars may be almost an expected reality.