One of Waymo’s driverless cars collided with a cyclist in San Francisco this week because it apparently didn’t see the human until it was too late.
The incident occurred on Tuesday at a four-way intersection while the self-driving vehicle was at a complete stop, Waymo, which is owned by Google, told local outlet ABC7. The car was waiting for a large truck to pass and drove into the intersection when it was its turn. That was when it hit the cyclist, who was riding close to the tail end of the truck. The unnamed victim suffered no serious injuries, according to Waymo, and walked away on their own.
The accident occurred because the cyclist was “occluded by the truck and quickly followed behind it,” Waymo said.
“When they became fully visible, our vehicle applied heavy braking but was not able to avoid the collision. Waymo called police to the scene and the cyclist left on their own, to our knowledge reporting only minor scratches,” Waymo explained, per ABC7. “We are making contact with relevant authorities surrounding this event.”
Gizmodo reached out to Waymo for comment early Thursday outside of normal business hours. We’ll update this post if we hear back.
The San Francisco Police Department confirmed that the cyclist had “non-life threatening injuries,” The Verge reported. The department is purportedly reviewing the incident. Gizmodo reached out to the SFPD on Thursday morning but did not immediately receive a response.
The Waymo collision is the second accident involving a human and a self-driving vehicle in San Francisco in recent months. Last October, a pedestrian was hit by human-operated car and then thrust into the path of a GM autonomous Cruise vehicle, which went on to drag the victim 20 feet. That same month, California forced GM to take its Cruise vehicles off state roads due to safety concerns.
Accidents involving self-driving cars prompted more than two dozen transportation-focused unions to write to the Department of Transportation and request an industry-wide investigation into operators like Waymo and Amazon’s Zoox.
“Let us be clear: [Automated driving system]-equipped vehicle operations are unsafe and untenable in their current form,” they wrote in November. “This industry is in dire need of federal regulation and leadership to restore a modicum of safety and establish a realistic path for these vehicles to operate without threatening other road users–including those represented by these unions.”
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