Waymo recalls entire fleet after one hits utility pole

Waymo recently recalled its entire fleet of self-driving vehicles (672 in total) after one of its cars hit a wooden utility pole in Phoenix in May. 12 News explains:

In a statement, Waymo expressed that following the incident, they filed a voluntary software recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"We have already deployed mapping and software updates across our entire fleet, and this does not impact our current operations. As we serve more riders in more cities, we will continue our safety-first approach, working to earn trust with our riders, community members, regulators, and policymakers."

A safety recall report from NHTSA showed Waymo made the changes between May 29 and June 6.

Andrew Maynard, a professor of advanced technology at Arizona State University said the recall shows that the technology is still learning.

"They have a technology which is amazingly safe, but it's not perfect, which means that we're still finding these incidents where the cars do things that aren't expected," Maynard said. "At this point, the company is still trying to learn how to make it as safe as possible."

KJZZ explains that this software recall—the second in 2024 so far—will address what the recall report describes as the cars' "insufficient ability to avoid pole or pole-like permanent objects" in certain situations. KJZZ further describes the incident in May that led to the recall:

A Waymo vehicle hit a wooden utility pole trying to perform a low-speed pullover maneuver in a Phoenix alleyway. No passengers were on board.

According to KJZZ, the previous recall that occurred in February was:

for a different software issue that the company said corrected "a rare scenario" resulting in two incidents, including one in Phoenix that had no injuries but minor vehicle damage.

I live in the Phoenix area and I see Waymo vehicles everywhere. Two even seem to live permanently on my street. I sure hope these software updates make the cars safer. I wonder if Waymo will also work on the fact that sometimes their cars drive frighteningly erratically and even in the wrong lane? Yikes.