Waymo recalls all self-driving cars after driverless taxi crash

Waymo recalls all self-driving cars after driverless taxi crash
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Waymo driverless taxi

Last month, a self-driving Waymo taxi collided with a telephone pole in Phoenix, Arizona. Luckily, the driverless car was on the way to pick up a passenger and the vehicle was unoccupied at the time of the accident. The robotaxi was damaged but no humans were injured.

However, this incident from May led to Waymo issuing a voluntary recall of its entire fleet of 672 autonomous vehicles. The Verge says that Waymo is filing the recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a software update has been issued to all of the vehicles.

According to The Verge’s report, Waymo’s recall was not done with an over-the-air update as has become common with companies like Tesla. The software update was installed in vehicles by engineers at Waymo’s central depot.

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Waymo’s second recall of 2024

This marks Waymo’s second recall in a span of just months.

Earlier this year, the company announced a voluntary recall of its entire fleet, which then consisted of 444 vehicles, after a set of accidents involving Waymo’s driverless vehicles.

In December 2023, two Waymo taxis hit the same pickup truck that was in the midst of being towed. The accidents occurred within minutes of each other. No injuries were reported. Like the most recent incident, these accidents also took place in Phoenix. Waymo addressed the issue via a software update that was completed in January. Waymo announced the recall in February and attributed the problem to a software error.

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The NHTSA shared last month that it was investigating Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, over safety concerns regarding the driverless cars operating on public roads. The federal government currently does not have a specific set of rules for self-driving cars. Standards that do exist have mostly been enacted at the state level. 

However, the NHTSA does require that self-driving car companies disclose crashes to the agency. As of last month, Waymo had reported 22 incidents where the company’s autonomous cars were “the sole vehicle operated during a collision” or “exhibited driving behavior that potentially violated traffic safety laws.” Of those incidents, 17 of them involved a crash.

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Waymo isn’t the only driverless vehicle company facing scrutiny from the NHTSA either. The agency is also currently investigating Amazon’s Zoox as well as evaluating issues related to Tesla and Ford’s self-driving technology.


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