NHTSA Investigating Waymo for Collisions With Stationary Objects and Unsafe Driving

Here is the three page summary of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation of Waymo robotaxi.

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received reports of 22 incidents involving Waymo vehicles equipped with Waymo’s 5th generation automated driving system (ADS) wherein the ADS-equipped vehicle was the sole vehicle operated during a collision or wherein the ADS-equipped vehicle exhibited driving behavior that potentially violated traffic safety laws.

Reports include collisions with stationary and semi-stationary objects such as gates and chains, collisions with parked vehicles, and instances in which the ADS appeared to disobey traffic safety control devices. In certain incidents, a collision occurred shortly after the ADS exhibited unexpected behavior near traffic safety control devices. Waymo submitted incident reports involving collisions to NHTSA under Standing General Order 2021-01 (SGO). Other incidents, such as vehicles driving in opposing lanes with nearby oncoming traffic or entering construction zones, were identified based on publicly available reports.

Based on initial evaluation of these incidents, NHTSA understands that the Waymo ADS was either engaged throughout the incident or, in certain cases when supervised by an in-vehicle test driver, the ADS disengaged in the moments just before an incident occurred.

ODI has opened a Preliminary Evaluation to investigate the Waymo 5th Generation ADS’s performance in the incidents identified in this resume and similar scenarios, as well as to more closely assess any commonalities in these incidents. The investigation will evaluate the ADS’s performance in detecting and responding to traffic control devices and in avoiding collisions with stationary and semi-stationary objects and vehicles.

Waymo said that although its cars have gotten better at responding to handheld signs, maneuvering around construction cones that come in all colors and sizes, and changing lanes for road work ahead even if the proper signage is missing, its work is not done.