Waymo Recalls Robotaxis To Give Telephone Poles A Higher ‘Damage Score’

Following an unoccupied Jaguar I-Pace EV’s collision with a telephone pole, Waymo is modifying its autonomous fleet’s “damage scoring” system. Autonomous cars do not seem to view these specific impediments as severe risks.

According to The Verge, the incident happened when a Waymo taxi was navigating a narrow alley to pick up a passenger. The alley was bordered by street-level telephone poles marked within yellow lines. The autonomous I-Pace struck one of these poles while attempting to stop. The prospective passengers heard the crash even if they were not present to see it, according to 12News. Phone pole damage scores increased after Waymo upgraded all 672 of its fleet vehicles after the collision. Rather than using an over-the-air update, Waymo’s developers manually updated this device.

Waymo spokesperson Katherine Barna said in a follow-up voluntary recall request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that “we have already deployed mapping and software updates across our entire fleet, and this does not impact our current operations.” We will keep putting safety first and strive to gain the trust of legislators, community members, regulators, and riders as we service more riders in more cities. Thankfully, the problem has been fixed, and the Jaguar and pole collision did not result in any injuries.

Following 22 accidents involving its self-driving cars, the NHTSA opened an inquiry into Waymo last month. The fact that the Google-backed company is reporting vulnerabilities and their fixes to the authorities promptly and transparently is encouraging. Since Waymo’s robotaxis did not consider telephone poles to be risks, it would be interesting to find out which other objects might have low damage scores.

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