Driverless Waymo Pulled Over by Phoenix Police for Wrong-Way Driving

A driverless Waymo vehicle found itself at the center of a bizarre traffic stop in Phoenix, Arizona. On June 19, 2024, a police officer pulled over the autonomous car after it veered into an oncoming lane of traffic, causing confusion and concern among law enforcement and bystanders alike.

The Waymo vehicle, a Jaguar I-Pace, encountered construction signage that led it astray, resulting in it driving into opposing traffic. According to Waymo, the car was blocked from returning to the correct lane for approximately 30 seconds. This incident took place near Seventh Avenue and Osborn Road, an area marked by ongoing construction that evidently proved too challenging for the vehicle’s navigation systems.

Bodycam footage from the scene reveals the officer’s initial surprise as he approached the car, only to discover there was no driver. The officer greeted the empty driver’s seat by saying “hi,” triggering the vehicle’s system to respond with, “Connecting to rider support.”

The officer then explained to the Waymo support representative that their vehicle had been driving into oncoming lanes of traffic.

Waymo, owned by Alphabet Inc., responded to the incident by attributing the mishap to “inconsistent construction signage” in a statement to AZ Central. A Waymo spokesperson maintained that its autonomous cars are statistically safer than human drivers, claiming they are three-and-a-half times more likely to avoid crashes.

This is the latest traffic incident involving a Waymo vehicle. Recently a Waymo vehicle collided with a telephone pole when navigating an alley lined with wooden telephone poles and marked by yellow lines. The vehicle, in an attempt to pull over, struck one of the poles at a speed of 8mph (13km/h). In response, Waymo recalled all of its vehicles to update their software.

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