Waymo issues software recall for robotaxi fleet after 2 minor collisions in Phoenix

Feb 17, 2024, 5:00 AM

A Waymo robotaxi waits for pedestrians to walk through a crosswalk...

Waymo said Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, it issued a voluntary recall for the software on its entire fleet of robotaxis after a pair of minor collisions in Phoenix. (Waymo Photo)

(Waymo Photo)

PHOENIX – Waymo said Tuesday it issued a voluntary recall for the software on its entire fleet of robotaxis after a pair of minor collisions in Phoenix.

Two autonomous SUVs made contact with the same tow truck a few minutes apart on Dec. 11, 2023, Waymo said. Neither of the SUVs were carrying riders at the time.

Waymo Chief Safety Officer Mauricio Peña said in a press release the truck was improperly pulling a rear-facing pickup truck that “was persistently angled across a center turn lane and a traffic lane.” The truck didn’t stop after it was hit the first time.

Nobody was injured in the incidents, which resulted in minor vehicle damage, Waymo said.

What did Waymo do after minor collisions in Phoenix?

The company notified the Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety on the day of the collisions and alerted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration four days later.

After consulting with the NHTSA, Waymo started pushing out a software update to address the issue on Dec. 20. The update was completed Jan. 12, and Waymo filed a recall report with the NHTSA this week.

The recall potentially involves 444 autonomous vehicles, according to The Associated Press.

When did Waymo start robotaxi service in Phoenix?

Waymo started out as Google’s self-driving car project and is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Its high-tech SUVs have become a common sight on metro Phoenix roadways since testing began in the East Valley in 2017.

The company launched the nation’s first fully driverless commercial taxi service, Waymo One, three-plus years ago. Passengers can hail the robotaxis through a mobile app, similar to how Uber and Lyft work.

Waymo One has been expanding its capabilities incrementally since debuting in October 2022 with a service area that covered about 50 square miles in and around Chandler.

The range ballooned in May 2023 to include over 180 square miles covering most of Chandler and Tempe and parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa.

The service area grew by another 45 square miles in July, adding destinations such as Camelback Mountain, McCormick Ranch and The Farm at South Mountain to the Waymo One map.

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Waymo issues software recall for robotaxi fleet after 2 minor collisions in Phoenix