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Waymo issues software recall after robotaxi crashes into pole

By Ehren Wynder
This is the second recall Waymo has issued since it recalled 444 driverless vehicles in February. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
This is the second recall Waymo has issued since it recalled 444 driverless vehicles in February. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

June 13 (UPI) -- Waymo has issued a voluntary recall of the software in its driverless taxis after one hit a utility pole in Phoenix last month.

According to the recall safety report, a self-driving Waymo vehicle on May 21 struck a wooden pole while attempting a low-speed pullover maneuver. The vehicle was damaged, but no one was inside, and no bystanders were hurt.

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Jericka Mitchell told NBC affiliate 12News that she was visiting Phoenix and wanted to try out the company's self-driving taxi. She said her ride never arrived, but she recalled hearing the sound of the crash.

The report stated a defect in the vehicle's software could cause it to respond improperly to a "pole-like" object if there was not a hard road edge between the object and the drivable surface.

Following the assessment, the company conducted a software update of its entire fleet of 672 vehicles and filed the recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall was implemented at Waymo's central depot where all vehicles return for regular maintenance and testing. It was not done through a wireless software update, like Tesla has done in the past.

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"We have already deployed mapping and software updates across our entire fleet, and this does not impact our current operations," Waymo spokesperson Katherine Barna said in a statement.

"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."

This is the second recall for Waymo. The company first issued a recall of 444 driverless vehicles in February following two separate incidents.

In February, a Waymo vehicle hit a cyclist in San Francisco. In December, two Waymo taxis struck the same pickup truck minutes apart from each other.

The NHSTA is currently investigating Waymo for over two dozen incidents, including crashes with stationary objects and possible traffic violations.

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