Waymo Recalls Robotaxis Again After One Hits Telephone Pole

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Waymo has initiated a preventive recall for all 672 of its Jaguar I-Pace autonomous vehicles following an incident where one car hit a telephone pole. This marks second instance the Alphabet-owned autonomous vehicle company has been to recall its software, the first being in February when two of its cars were involved in accidents with towed pickup truck.

Reported first by The Verge upon notification from Waymo, the recall demonstrates the company’s effort to address safety concerns head-on during a period when both regulators and the public are closely monitoring the safety of autonomous vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NSA), which is investigating Waymo for 31 reported incidents involving its self-driving cars, confirmed it has received Waymo’s recall documentation for processing.

Katherine Barna, speaking for Waymo, emphasized the importance of safety and transparency in their operations, acknowledging the recall as a testament to Waymo’s commitment to these principles. This comes at a time when the autonomous vehicle industry as a whole is under scrutiny following operational challenges faced by other companies, such as GM’s Cruise. Last year, Cruise experienced a significant setback when it lost its operational permits in California and had to halt its fleet, after a robotaxi was involved in dragging a pedestrian following a collision instigated by a human-operated vehicle.

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The recent Waymo incident occurred on May 21 in Phoenix, where an autonomous vehicle attempting a low-speed pull-over maneuver collided with a telephone pole in an alleyway at 8 miles per hour. The alley was reportedly lined with telephone poles at road level, marked with yellow lines to designate a driving path. Despite the damage to the Waymo car, no passengers or pedestrians were harmed in the collision.

In response, Waymo quickly undertook an investigation and identified a specific scenario in which its vehicles showed inadequate capability to avoid on-road, narrow, permanent objects. Remedial actions have included updates to mapping and vehicle software. A potential passenger, who had summoned the Waymo service for the first time, reported that the ride never arrived due to the accident.

Rebecca Bellan
Rebecca Bellan
Rebecca covers transportation. She’s interested in all things micromobility, EVs, AVs, smart cities, AI, sustainability and more. Previously, she covered social media for Forbes.com, and her work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Mother Jones, i-D (Vice) and more. Rebecca studied journalism and history at Boston University.

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