Waymo Recalls Over 600 Self-Driving Cars After One Hits Pole in Arizona

By Trisha Andrada

Jun 14, 2024 04:45 AM EDT

A Waymo autonomous self-driving Jaguar electric vehicle sits parked at an EVgo charging station in Los Angeles, California, on May 15, 2024. (Photo : PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Waymo said on Thursday, June 13, that it would recall 672 of its autonomous cars after an incident in which one of its vehicles crashed into a utility pole in Phoenix, Arizona.

Driverless Car Hits Utility Pole

The accident in Phoenix in May happened in an alleyway when Waymo was doing a low-speed pullover, as reported by Reuters. The report states that the car was damaged in the incident, but no passengers, other road users, or injuries were recorded.

According to Waymo, the fix for the recall involves a software upgrade that enhances the cars' detection response to permanent objects that resemble poles or similar structures. Moreover, all of the vehicles will receive robust mapping updates and enhancements.

However, even before the software upgrades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had already warned that autonomous driving systems may collide with poles or other objects.

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NHTSA Seeks More Information

The recall comes after the NHTSA began a probe last month following 22 instances of Waymo robotaxis breaking traffic regulations and showing other unexpected behaviors, including 17 crashes, CBS News reported.

On Wednesday, June 12, the NHTSA said it sought information about the instances involving Waymo cars due to concerns about their performance.

Reports have been received about incidents involving parked cars, crashes with semi-stationary objects like gates and chains, and situations where the autopilot system seemed to disregard traffic safety regulations.

Waymo was given until August 6 to provide thorough responses to the agency's extensive questions. The regulator wanted to know if any cars had been grounded and whether testing or upgrades had been made in response to individual instances.

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