U.S. auto safety agency seeks details of Google self-driving crash

Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:05pm EST
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. auto safety regulator said on Thursday the agency is seeking additional details of a recent crash of an Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O: Quote) Google self-driving car in California.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is collecting information to get a "more detailed exploration of what exactly happened," NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind told Reuters on the sidelines of an event on highway safety.

A Google self-driving car struck a municipal bus in Mountain View, Calif. in a minor crash on Feb. 14, and the technology company said it bears "some responsibility" for the incident in what may be the first crash that was the fault of the self-driving vehicle.

Rosekind said he spoke to Google officials on Wednesday and the company has been "very forthcoming" in answering requests for details on the crash. "We have to see what's going on," Rosekind said.

A Google spokesman confirmed NHTSA has asked for more information and the company plans to discuss the crash with regulators.

U.S. safety officials said in January they are working on new guidance on self-driving vehicles that they hope to release by July. Rosekind said understanding the Google car crash is important in that process.

"One of the lessons learned would be: there's an incident, how do you make that sure that (the issue) ends up getting corrected and there is quality assurance to make sure it effectively changes what happened," Rosekind said.

Google said last week it made changes to its software after the crash to avoid future incidents. A U.S. Senate panel will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the future of autonomous vehicles that will include the director of Google's self-driving car program.   Continued...

A prototype of Google's own self-driving vehicle is seen during a media preview of Google's current autonomous vehicles in Mountain View, California September 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage