Waymo Announces Second Recall Following Robotaxi Collision With Telephone Pole

Waymo has voluntarily issued a software recall to all 672 of its Jaguar I-Pace robotaxis after one of them collided with a telephone pole. This is Waymo’s second recall. NHTSA confirmed to TechCrunch that it has received Waymo’s recall documents and is processing them for publication on its website. The accident that prompted Waymo’s second recall happened on May 21 when a Waymo vehicle in Phoenix, driving without a human safety operator, collided with a telephone pole in an alley during a low speed pullover maneuver. The Waymo vehicle slowed down to pull over and struck a pole at a speed of 8 miles per hour.

Waymo, the leading self-driving technology company owned by Alphabet, has recently issued a voluntary software recall for all 672 of its Jaguar I-Pace robotaxis. This decision was made after one of these vehicles collided with a telephone pole. This marks the second time that Waymo has conducted a recall, as they also recalled previous software in February following two incidents of their robotaxis crashing into a pickup truck that was being towed.

The Verge was the first to report on this news after Waymo themselves notified the publication of their proactive actions. This move comes amidst heightened scrutiny from regulators and the general public. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently conducting an investigation into Waymo’s autonomous vehicle software, as they have received 31 reports of crashes and potential traffic safety law violations involving these robotaxis.

NHTSA has confirmed to TechCrunch that they have received the necessary documents for Waymo’s recall and are currently processing them for publication on their website.

“This marks our second voluntary recall,” stated Katherine Barna, a spokesperson for Waymo. “It reflects our commitment to ensuring the safe deployment of our technology and transparent communication with the public.”

Transparency has become a top priority for many autonomous vehicle companies, especially after the struggles faced by GM’s Cruise in October and November of 2023. While Cruise is now slowly re-entering the market, the company faced significant setbacks last year, losing its permits to operate in California and grounding their entire fleet after one of their robotaxis hit and dragged a pedestrian for 20 feet. This incident not only caused damage to Cruise’s reputation but also brought to light the withholding of key details from regulators by their executives.

The collision that led to Waymo’s second recall occurred on May 21 in Phoenix. At the time, the vehicle was being operated without a human safety operator and collided with a telephone pole while attempting a low-speed pullover maneuver.

According to local reports, the Waymo was navigating through an alley with wooden telephone poles on both sides, level with the road and marked by yellow lines to indicate a path for vehicles. The robotaxi slowed down to pull over but ended up hitting a pole at a speed of 8 miles per hour. Footage of the incident reveals that the vehicle seemed to have driven straight into the pole. While the robotaxi sustained some damage, there were no reported injuries to any passengers or pedestrians.

“We immediately began reviewing the situation and found that our vehicles had limited ability to avoid collisions with narrow, permanent objects on the road,” explained Barna. “After implementing updates to our mapping and software, we have addressed this issue.”

Unfortunately, one passenger had to experience this recall firsthand as the Waymo vehicle was on its way to pick them up through the alley. The passenger shared with 12News that the robotaxi never made it to their designated location.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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