No forwards or backwards – a self-driving taxi gets stuck on the road and flees from breakdown service

Published19. May 2021, 08:00

Self-driving taxis are in use in Arizona. A video shows how one of these cars gets into an awkward situation – because of a street cone.

  • A Waymo self-driving taxi got stuck in the middle of the street in the USA.

  • The reason for this were road cones that blocked the way.

  • The car did not manage to find a way out of the situation on its own.

  • Only with the help of a Waymo employee could the car be finally freed from its predicament.

Waymo self-driving taxis have been in use in Phoenix in the US state of Arizona since October last year. For the most part, this technology works smoothly, but the fact that this does not apply to all journeys is shown by the video of a passenger who recorded several gross errors in the self-driving car during a journey.

The first problems arose when the car was supposed to turn right into a street, the strip that the vehicle was aiming for, but was blocked with road cones. Instead of using the second lane, the vehicle just stopped for a few moments. In the end it decided to turn, but tried again to take the lane with the street cones. The car stopped the maneuver when it found a cone in front of it and stopped between the two lanes in the middle of the street.

Roadside assistance on the go

The car stopped moving for four minutes – while it significantly impaired the traffic around it. In the video, the horns of passing cars can be heard over and over again, some of which had to evade a double solid line in order to avoid the parked vehicle. Even when a construction site worker removed the cone in front of the Waymo-Car, the car could not be made to drive any further.

The passenger in the self-driving car had meanwhile contacted the Waymo service point. There he was assured that the breakdown assistance was already on the way. The Waymo employee was visibly surprised when the taxi suddenly started without being asked and drove on.

But this trip was only a short one. More cones brought the taxi to a stop just a few moments later. Meanwhile, the passenger was instructed to sit still and fasten the seat belt.

Car flees

A few minutes later, the breakdown service arrived at the parked taxi. “Better make it quick or it will get away from you again,” the passenger warned the Waymo employee – and he was right. In fact, the moment the breakdown service agent approached the car, the car started up again and drove on for a few meters.

“I have no idea what’s going on,” says the passenger in the video. This time, however, the Waymo employee managed to get into the car and switch on the manual controls. The passenger finally reached his destination around 20 minutes late, as he told CNN. The cost of the trip was reimbursed to him.

Construction sites are problematic

“If you want to get to your destination on time, you shouldn’t use Waymo,” says the passenger. But he didn’t worry about his safety during the whole maneuver. In fact, he has already made 146 trips with Waymo taxis and will continue to use the service in the future. «The technology is so impressive. It would be wrong to copy them for this one mistake. “

Waymo also regrets the incident to CNN and describes it as “not ideal”. In fact, it is well known that construction sites can be a major obstacle for self-driving cars. Because such technology relies heavily on detailed maps of their surroundings in order to be able to navigate safely. If this environment changes without this being noted on the internal card, problems can arise, as can be seen in the video.

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