Waymo Taxi In Arizona Confused By Blocked Road

A self-driving taxi from Waymo, the autonomous driving subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, caused problems in the US state of Arizona after it reportedly got confused when it encountered a coned-off road.

And to make matters worse, when roadside assistance was dispatched, the confused Waymo vehicle repeatedly drove off.

The confused Waymo journey was captured on video (available here) by Youtuber JJRicks, who filmed his journey in the self-driving taxi.

Taxi service

Waymo began offering its driverless taxi service to the general public in October 2020.

It operates a couple of hundred cars in a limited area of the Phoenix suburbs,

Waymo had shut down all its services earlier in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but began offering fully driverless rides in Phoenix as of 8 October 2020.

The company, once it fits its fleet of self-driving cars with barriers between the driver and passenger areas, plans to resume offering rides that include a human backup driver.

Before the pandemic, Waymo said it was offering between 1,000 and 2,000 weekly rides in a designated 50 square mile, mostly residential area that includes the Phoenix suburbs of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe.

Confused car

But sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

Earlier this month a confused Waymo self-driving car became stranded on an Arizona road when it encountered traffic cones, and then unexpectedly drove away as a worker from the company’s roadside assistance who had arrived to help.

And then to make matters worse, the Waymo vehicle became stuck farther down the road, which was lined with construction cones.

The Waymo worker caught up to the vehicle, took over, and drove the paying passenger to his final destination.

An Autonomous vehicle expert who reviewed the video footage of the 41-minute trip posted on YouTube by the Waymo passenger say it shows a series of gaffes by the Waymo self-driving technology, CNN reported.

“The first one was understandable. The second was strange. The third one was jaw-dropping and the fourth one I threw up my hands,” Noah Goodall, a University of Virginia scientist who researches vehicle communication and automation, was quoted as telling CNN Business.

Waymo was spun out of Google in 2016 and last November, it disclosed crash data on its self-driving cars for the first time, saying its vehicles have been involved in 18 minor accidents since the beginning of 2019.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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