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Waymo says test vehicle was in manual mode when it struck a pedestrian in San Francisco
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Waymo says test vehicle was in manual mode when it struck a pedestrian in San Francisco

A Waymo autonomous vehicle struck a pedestrian in San Francisco Wednesday evening, according to a post on Reddit. A spokesperson for the Alphabet-owned firm confirmed the incident on Twitter however clarified that the vehicle was in manual mode on the time of the collision.

The incident befell in the Decrease Haight neighborhood of San Francisco, the place Waymo has been testing its autos since final summer season. The Reddit person KWillets, who claims to have witnessed the collision, posted a picture of a Waymo vehicle stopped in the center of the highway with the driver-side door open. A firetruck is parked to the facet, whereas a variety of firefighters and bystanders are gathered in entrance of the vehicle. In keeping with KWillets:

Requested by a commenter whether or not the one that was hit was jaywalking, KWillets clarified some particulars: “They each bought out someplace close to the higher left. One crossed to the appropriate with many seconds to spare however apparently returned and was Waymo’ed. The opposite one mockingly didn’t cross, however was accosted by a patrol automobile.”

When contacted by The Verge, KWillets famous that they solely “heard” the incident after which replayed it on closed-circuit tv.

“I’m OK with the testing,” KWillets says, when requested about autonomous vehicle firms utilizing San Francisco as a proving floor, “however SFMTA has inspired rushing and reckless driving on our block. I had already complained about poor sign timing and drivers racing the lights.”

The incident was picked up by Omar Qazi, a Tesla fan who tweets below the deal with WholeMarsBlog. Katherine Barna, a spokesperson for Waymo, responded to Qazi’s tweet, stating, “We’re conscious of this incident involving a Waymo vehicle, which was being pushed in manual mode, and are persevering with to analyze it in partnership with native authorities.”

In a follow-up electronic mail, Barna mentioned that the collision befell on Haight Avenue, midblock between Webster and Buchanan. “The pedestrian was handled for accidents on the scene and was transported to the hospital in an ambulance,” Barna mentioned. “The belief and security of the communities in which we drive are paramount to us, and we are going to proceed investigating this incident in partnership with native authorities.”

The protection driver has been positioned on “administrative go away” by Transdev, the workforce firm that provides drivers and different operational workers to Waymo, pending the end result of the investigation, Barna mentioned.

A spokesperson for the San Francisco Fireplace Division referred inquiries to the town’s Police Division. In a assertion, SFPD mentioned that when officers arrived on the scene, a 33-year-old male pedestrian was in the roadway. The Waymo security driver, a 37-year-old male, additionally remained on the scene and cooperated with investigators.

“The pedestrian was transported to a native hospital with non-life-threatening accidents,” SFPD mentioned in an electronic mail to The Verge. “The reason for the collision is below investigation. Right now investigators don’t consider that alcohol/impairment was a issue in this collision. No arrests have been made in this incident.”

Waymo’s security drivers are usually not really employed by the corporate, however quite work for Waymo’s workforce vendor, Transdev North America. During the last two years, some drivers in California and Arizona have complained safety lapses, reduced benefits, and poor communication whereas working as security drivers for Waymo.

AV operators are required to report crash incidents to California’s Division of Motor Autos, which oversees AV testing in the state. The division just lately suspended the license of AV startup Pony.ai after one in every of its autos was concerned in a single-vehicle crash whereas in autonomous mode.

Waymo has a higher security report than most AV firms, however the firm has nonetheless been concerned in a variety of incidents. Final 12 months, Waymo published 6.1 million miles of driving data in Arizona in 2019 and 2020, together with 18 crashes and 29 near-miss collisions. In these incidents the place its security operators took management of the vehicle to keep away from a crash, Waymo’s engineers simulated what would have occurred had the driving force not disengaged the vehicle’s self-driving system to generate a counterfactual. The corporate has additionally made some of its data available to academic researchers.

Replace December sixteenth, 11:52AM ET: This story has been up to date to incorporate a remark from Waymo’s spokesperson.

Replace December sixteenth, 12:49PM ET: This story has been up to date to incorporate a assertion from the San Francisco Police Division.

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