A Waymo vehicle struck a person driving a motorized scooter Wednesday night in San Francisco, but the Alphabet-owned autonomous vehicle developer says a person was driving the car manually at the time of the collision.
A senior Wired writer, Tom Simonite, first shared photos of the scene on Twitter.
A spokesperson for Waymo confirmed that the collision occurred in downtown San Francisco at the intersection of Mcallister and Larkin, and said in a statement Thursday morning:
“The autonomous specialist had recently deactivated the vehicle from autonomous mode and was driving in manual mode when the vehicle entered the intersection and made a left turn. After turning, and while still in manual mode, the vehicle came into contact with a person on a motorized scooter ”.
Waymo said no serious injuries were reported. The scooter driver removed his vehicle from the scene after the incident, while the company’s car, a battery-electric Jaguar I-PACE equipped with Waymo’s autonomous driving technology, suffered only cosmetic damage.
Waymo said he is working with the San Francisco Police Department and has notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the incident. NHTSA and the San Francisco Police Department were not immediately available for comment.
The company said it temporarily restricted its fleet from operating in the Tenderloin neighborhood where the collision occurred for a few hours, but continued to operate normally in San Francisco otherwise.
Waymo has been one of the ambitious, but has lost money, “Other bets” by Alphabet. In general, driverless vehicles and robotaxi services have been slow to manifest in the US due to technological hurdles and safety concerns.
In 2018, an Uber test vehicle struck a woman pushing her bike down the road in Tempe, Arizona, a watershed moment in the nascent autonomous driving industry. The safety driver in the Uber vehicle was later charged with negligence and Uber ended up selling a self-contained unit to power up Aurora in December 2020.
But driverless tech has remained largely unregulated in the U.S. Investors have continued to pour money into companies like GM-backed Cruise, Alphabet’s Waymo and others despite delays.
On Wednesday, Waymo, which started as Google’s Self Driving Car project, announced that it had raised $ 2.5 billion from its previous investors and at least one new sponsor, Tiger Global.
You have permits to operate your vehicles in San Francisco with or without a life safety driver aboard the California DMV. Waymo also operates a commercial transportation service in Phoenix called Waymo One, and a delivery company called Waymo Via, which works with UPS and others to transport goods.
While Waymo is generally regarded as one of the most responsible autonomous vehicle developers operating in the United States, its vehicles have been reportedly mistakenly operating in Phoenix by its technology driver and video chronicler, Joel Johnson.