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As if right on cue, two self-driving cars nearly crashed into each other in California

Google+/Google Self-Driving Car Project
Watch out.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

This post has been updated.

Yesterday, Google announced that its own self-driving cars were now on the streets of Mountain View, California. Later that evening, it was revealed one of Google’s cars had a close call on Tuesday with another self-driving car from Delphi Automotive, another company looking into building autonomous vehicles.

Reuters reported that the two cars didn’t crash into each other, but the close call came when the Delphi car—a modified Audi—tried to change lanes to get around a Google car in front of it. The Google car proceeded to abruptly change lanes ahead of the Delphi car, cutting it off. The Google car was not one of its new panda-shaped cars, but one of its earlier, modified Lexus prototypes.

Just like when two human drivers get into an incident on the road, both parties are blaming the other. Google told the BBC that early reports saying the two cars were in a near miss was “inaccurate.” A representative for Delphi told Ars Technica:

“Our car did exactly what it was supposed to,” she wrote. “Our car saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into, but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again.”

Google has previously said that it’s taught its cars to be defensive drivers, always leaving adequate space between cars, and driving below the speed limit.

Update June 29: Delphi has retracted the anecdote it told Reuters, saying there was no “near miss” between the two vehicles. A spokesman told Reuters the two cars “did exactly what they were supposed to do.” Reuters said it stands by its initial report.

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