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Talk about bad timing: Google just got a bus detection patent for self-driving cars

Google's self-driving Lexus car drives along street during a demonstration at Google campus on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Mountain View, Calif.
Image: AP Photo/Tony Avelar/Associated Press

What's the old saying: "Sometimes you hit the bus. And sometimes the bus hits you"? I know it's something like that.

Either way, it shouldn't happen to Google's self-driving cars anymore because the tech giant was just awarded a patent for “Bus Detection for an Autonomous Vehicle.”

Google bus detection patent

An image from Google's bus detection patent.

Although Google applied for the patent in 2014, it was just awarded this week, which is comically bad timing. That's because a self-driving Google car sideswiped — albeit barely — a Mountain View city bus on Feb. 14.

Turns out, though, this patent may not have prevented the recent collision anyhow. The patent specifically identifies school buses and their bright yellow color. Once the car's cameras pick up images of a school bus, the system would send the car into a more cautious driving mode.

Thankfully, Google has — according to Re/code — run some 3,500 tests since the bus sideswipe, in an attempt to ensure it “won’t happen again.”

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James Bong

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