Google self-driving van involved in crash in Arizona, driver injured (Update)

A self-driving van that was part of Google's tests in Arizona was involved in an accident Friday when a car being driven by a human swerved to avoid another human-driven car and crashed into it.

Photos taken at the scene show significant damage to the driver's side of the Waymo van and the front of a silver Honda sedan, with pieces of both vehicles scattered across the roadway.

The Honda was driving eastbound in Chandler, Ariz. when it swerved to avoid striking a vehicle that was driving northbound. As the sedan swerved, it struck the Waymo van, which was traveling at low speeds in autonomous, or self-driving, mode, Detective Seth Tyler of the Chandler police said.

There was an occupant in the driver's seat of the Waymo vehicle who suffered minor injuries, Tyler added.

Both the Waymo vehicle and Honda sedan were damaged and had to be towed.

Chandler is a suburb to the southeast of Phoenix where Waymo has been testing its self-driving vehicles. Waymo is autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Accidents involving self-driving cars in Arizona have raised questions about whether the tech is ready for testing with the public. There have been at least three accidents involving Waymo autonomous vehicles in Chandler in the past two years, involving human drivers who ran into Waymo cars.

On March 18 an Uber self-driving car hit and killed a woman who was walking a bike across a busy street outside any crosswalk into traffic.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered testing of Uber cars be suspended soon after the fatality, but not all self-driving operations were stopped. Uber suspended self-driving operations elsewhere after the accident while it investigated the crash.

Last month, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said he had confidence that the company's technology was robust enough to handle "situations like that one."

Waymo did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.

Marsh reporting from Phoenix, Ariz. Weise reporting from San Francisco.

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User comments

May 05, 2018
And what happens when Natural Stupid runs into Artificial Stupid? Why, a plethora of stupid!

We cannot trust humans to drive competently or sober? And we're suppose to trust human manufactured & programmed machines to do better?

I have serious doubts about seeing the end of either insurance companies or ambulance chasers in my lifetime.

May 06, 2018
What is up, why did people crash into Waymo instead of the other way around? Is Waymo get in the way of these driver? I suppose normal people anticipate incident and stay away but Waymo couldn't sense that. AI is still lacking in basic instinct..

May 06, 2018
The driver who crashed into the Waymo was cited.

Any questions?

May 06, 2018
The driverless car has not got human instinct and human reactions, if it had it would drive like a human being and anticipate human reactions and know exactly where not to be on the road - it was driving slowly, to slowly when it should have not been dawdling but driving with the traffic!

May 06, 2018
The news headline I saw, claimed the Natural Stupid ran a red light. Which brings up an issue I've been wondering about.

One of the purposes of AI is speed. Being able to sort and correlate a multitude of data at electrical speed. Yet in article after article I am reading that the designers and programmers of AI keep handicapping the machines with trying to duplicate Human thinking patterns and reaction times.

Perhaps this is deliberate to blend in with Human usage? And avoid over-stressing mechanical devices?

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