Waymo Issues Software Recall for Driverless Cars After Telephone Pole Crash

Waymo Issues Software Recall for Driverless Cars After Telephone Pole Crash

Waymo issued a voluntary recall of the driverless car company’s mapping software on Wednesday after an unoccupied vehicle hit a telephone pole while trying to pick up a passenger last month. The company tells Gizmodo it’s issuing an update to 672 vehicles and has filed a notice with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

News of the recall, first reported by The Verge, comes after an incident on May 21 when a Waymo driverless car was traveling to pick up a rider in Phoenix, Arizona. The car hit a light pole at 8 miles per hour, causing some damage to the vehicle but no injuries.

“Following an event on May 21 in Phoenix, we have chosen to file a voluntary software recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to address a mapping and software issue,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement to Gizmodo on Wednesday.

“We have already deployed mapping and software updates across our entire fleet, and this does not impact our current operations,” the spokesperson continued. “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.”

The Verge reports the problem with the software is that it “assigned a low damage score” to telephone poles. But Waymo didn’t elaborate on the specifics of the issue in the company’s statement to Gizmodo and didn’t immediately respond to follow-up questions.

Wednesday’s recall is Waymo’s second ever. The last recall from the company was issued in February after two recent incidents. The first was in December 2023 when a Waymo vehicle in Phoenix made contact with a pickup truck “being towed backwards and at an angle relative to the towing vehicle,” according to a filing with the NHTSA and reported by Reuters. The second incident happened in February, when a Waymo vehicle hit a cyclist in San Francisco.

Waymo was quick to stress in its statement that the current recall will have no impact on its operations.

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