Waymo issues recall after one its self-driving taxis crashed into a pole

New software will better account for stationary objects.


Waymo is voluntarily recalling its robotaxis after one of them collided with a telephone pole in an alley enroute to pick up a passenger, The Verge reported. The vehicle was unoccupied and no bystanders were injured.

At the time of the May 21st accident, the Waymo vehicle went through an alley lined with telephone poles mounted at street level rather than on a curb, with a yellow line showing where to drive. While pulling over, it struck one of the poles at 8 MPH and sustained some damage, Waymo said.

"It never made it to pick us up," the passenger waiting for the car, Jericka Mitchell, told 12News. Mitchell reportedly heard, but didn't see the accident.

The company filed a recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after updating the software in its entire self-driving fleet of 672 vehicles. The update is designed to fix an error that assigned a low damage score to the pole and failed to account for the alleyway's hard edge.

It's only Waymo's second recall. The first happened earlier this year when two of its autonomous vehicles crashed into the same pickup truck that was being towed. In that one, Waymo found that its software failed to predict the movements of the vehicle due to "persistent orientation mismatch" between the towed vehicle and the one towing it.

Waymo is also under investigation for more than 24 incidents including crashes and traffic violations. Rival Cruise, owned by GM, was involved in a more serious incident last year, wherein one of its robotaxis accidentally dragged someone hit by another vehicle a few dozen feet down a San Francisco street. California then suspended its license to operate in the state and Cruise eventually paused all robotaxi operations