Waymo self-driving car accident blamed on human error

Brittany A. Roston - Nov 6, 2018, 4:52 pm CST
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Waymo self-driving car accident blamed on human error

In a blog post on Monday, Waymo CEO John Krafcik revealed that one of the company’s self-driving vehicles has been involved in an accident with a motorcycle. The “manual collision” happened in Mountain View, California, on El Camino Real, and was the result of an attempt to avoid a different anticipated wreck, according to the company. The car was not operating itself at the time of the accident.

According to details the company provided on Medium, the self-driving Waymo vehicle was operating on the road with a safety driver. That driver saw a car to their left “abruptly move towards” the Waymo car. To avoid being hit by that vehicle, the Waymo driver took control and moved the car into the right lane.

However, “a motorcyclist had just moved from behind our vehicle into the right lane to pass us,” according to Waymo, and its driver failed to notice the motorcycle. This resulted in the Waymo car striking the motorcycle with its right rear bumper; the motorcyclist is described as “injured.”

Despite training, Waymo points out that its safety drivers may still be presented with some scenarios that “challenge human drivers.” Krafcik explained in his post:

People are often called upon to make split second decisions with insufficient context. In this case, our test driver reacted quickly to avoid what he thought would be a collision, but his response contributed to another.

Incidents like this are what motivate all of us at Waymo to work diligently and safely to bring our technology to roads, because this is the type of situation self-driving vehicles can prevent.

A copy of the vehicle accident report is available from the California DMV here.

SOURCE: Waymo (Medium)


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