Waymo remembers and updates robotaxi software program after two automobiles crashed into the identical towed truck

Waymo is voluntarily recalling the software program that powers its robotaxi fleet after two autos crashed into the identical towed pickup truck in Phoenix, Arizona, in December. It’s the corporate’s first recall.

Waymo chief security officer Mauricio Peña described the crashes as “minor” in a weblog publish, and stated neither car was carrying passengers on the time. There have been no accidents. He additionally stated Waymo’s ride-hailing service — which is stay in Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin — “just isn’t and has not been interrupted by this replace.” The corporate declined to share video of the crashes with TechCrunch.

Waymo stated it developed, examined, and validated a repair to the software program that it began deploying to its fleet on December 20. All of its robotaxis acquired that software program replace by January 12.

“This voluntary recall displays how severely we take our accountability to soundly deploy our know-how and to transparently talk with the general public,” Peña wrote.

The recall comes at a time when self-driving automobiles are dealing with intense scrutiny following a collection of high-profile crashes and controversies — together with one final week the place a Waymo robotaxi struck a bicycle owner. This previous weekend, a Waymo autonomous car was vandalized and burned by a crowd of individuals in San Francisco. Rival operator Cruise, in the meantime, has suspended its operations because it offers with the fallout of a crash from final October. It employed its first chief security officer this week.

The crashes that prompted the recall each occurred on December 11. Peña wrote that one in every of Waymo’s autos stumbled on a backward-facing pickup truck being “improperly towed.” The truck was “persistently angled throughout a middle flip lane and a site visitors lane.” Peña stated the robotaxi “incorrectly predicted the longer term movement of the towed car” due to this mismatch between the orientation of the tow truck and the pickup, and made contact. The corporate advised TechCrunch this prompted minor harm to the entrance left bumper.

The tow truck didn’t cease, although, in response to Peña, and just some minutes later one other Waymo robotaxi made contact with the identical pickup truck being towed. The corporate advised TechCrunch this prompted minor harm to the entrance left bumper and a sensor. (The tow truck stopped after the second crash.)

Waymo stated it contacted the Phoenix Police Division and the Arizona Division of Public Security on the day of the crashes, and advised the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration about them on December 15. The corporate and NHTSA employees have had “4 subsequent conversations” in regards to the crashes, earlier than Waymo determined to voluntarily recall the software program that was in use on the time.

The recall might enhance public strain on Waymo, as cities, residents and authorities businesses are scrutinizing the promise of autonomous car fleets. Robotaxis are already dealing with pushback in Los Angeles, together with from the Teamsters union. The California Division of Motor Autos is already investigating Waymo’s aforementioned crash with a bicycle owner. And the Division of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Alternate Fee, amongst others, are probing Cruise’s dealing with of its October crash.

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