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Waymo voluntarily withdraws its autonomous vehicle software

by SuperiorInvest

A passenger-only Waymo robotaxi is seen during a test ride in San Francisco, California, US, December 9, 2022.

Paresh Dave | Reuters

Waymo has filed a voluntary recall notice with federal vehicle safety regulators for software previously used in its driverless vehicles, the company announced Tuesday, marking a first in its history. AlphabetAutonomous vehicle unit.

In a company blog post on Tuesday, Waymo said the company decided to make the voluntary recall after consulting with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its internal review of two incidents that took place in Phoenix on Dec. 11. 2023, in which two robotaxis crashed. in the same truck towed within a few minutes of each other.

NHTSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two collisions involving its robotaxis resulted in only minor damage to the vehicle and no injuries, Waymo said in the post. According to the publication, there were no passengers in the vehicles.

Waymo spokeswoman Katherine Barna said Waymo's automated driving system, or ADS, incorrectly predicted the “future movement of a towed vehicle,” and the company's voluntary recall included updating its software to address this issue. . The company updated the software when the cars were returned to Waymo depots for regular maintenance and charging, not over the air or through remote software updates, Barna added.

The software updates were completed on Jan. 12 and did not disrupt Waymo's transportation service, Barna said.

Waymo currently operates its Waymo One driverless transportation service in Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin. The company has about 700 total vehicles in the Waymo One fleet, with a couple hundred cars in each of its Waymo One fully autonomous service areas, Barna said.

In recent months, some public backlash has emerged about driverless vehicles and how they are being tested and deployed on public roads, following crashes and concerns about the impact of automation on drivers' jobs.

Overall, Waymo has faced the least public criticism, due in part to its public affairs communications with agencies like NHTSA and local first responders. Waymo says it has driven 10 million miles fully autonomously and taken more than a million trips.

However, in the fourth quarter of 2023, the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended the deployment and testing permits it had previously granted to Waymo competitor Cruise, which is owned by G.M..

The revocation of those licenses followed an Oct. 2, 2023 incident in which a pedestrian in San Francisco was dragged 20 feet by a Cruise robotaxi after first being hit by a separate human-driven vehicle.

Another possible Waymo competitor, teslahas yet to deliver an automated driving system (ADS) or robotaxi, although CEO Elon Musk promised that an autonomous Tesla could navigate the US without human intervention by the end of 2017. Instead, Tesla sells advanced driver assistance . systems that it markets as “Autopilot” and “Fully Autonomous Driving” options.

The California DMV has filed formal charges against Tesla saying the company's marketing and advertising are misleading.

Last week, a self-driving Waymo car collided with a cyclist in San Francisco, causing minor injuries, and the incident is being reviewed by the state's automotive regulator.

In a separate incident, unknown assailants set fire to a Waymo vehicle on Saturday in San Francisco's Chinatown during Lunar New Year celebrations. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the destruction of the Waymo car. Authorities are investigating who is responsible, according to reports from NBC Bay Area.

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