Self-Driving Waymo Spotted Plowing Down Wrong Side of Street

Self-Driving Waymo Spotted Plowing Down Wrong Side of Street

A video making the rounds on social media shows a self-driving Waymo car bombing down the wrong side of the road in downtown San Francisco — yet another glaring incident involving the company’s vehicles acting unexpectedly.

The footage shows the vehicle passing a group of electric-powered unicyclists and scooters in the city’s Mission and Market district last week.

Another video shows the same event from a different perspective, with the Waymo car seemingly trying to overtake the unicyclists — by taking over the entirety of the oncoming lane.

Fortunately, one of the unicyclists managed to get the vehicle to stop by getting in front of it.

In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, Waymo argued that its robotaxi did the right thing by swerving into the oncoming lane.

Per the company, the cab “detected that there may be a risk of a person within that crowd who had fallen down, and decided to carefully initiate a passing maneuver when the opposing lane was clear to move around what could be an obstacle and a safety concern.”

But was it really the fault of the unicyclists that forced the vehicle to break the rules of the road? Would a human driver really take over the entire opposing lane instead of simply slowing down or pulling over? What would’ve happened if the opposing lane was already occupied?

The video sparked a heated debate on Reddit.

“The guy literally stops in front of it and gestures it back into the lane,” one redditor wrote. “Makes me wonder if the Waymo would have continued on the wrong side of the road if this guy hadn’t have stopped in front of it to get it to stop driving on the wrong side of the road.”

“I think we can all agree that the decision making of the Waymo was not good,” another user wrote.

“I love Waymo and take it weekly but this seems like a really aggressive and dangerous move by Waymo,” one redditor argued. “Hope they learn from the incident.”

The run-in highlights the tense relationship between the company’s robotaxi services and Bay Area residents. Waymo cars have caused plenty of mayhem on the streets, leading to close calls and other hazardous situations. Last summer, a Waymo vehicle ran over a dog, sparking outrage. In February, one of its cars collided with a cyclist, triggering an investigation by the California DMV.

In December, the city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against a state commission that allowed both Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise to run expanded driverless taxi services in the city.

Many residents have seemingly had enough. In February, a Waymo driverless taxi was set ablaze by a furious crowd.

Waymo’s competitor Cruise has struggled even more. Following a high-profile crash in San Francisco that involved a Cruise vehicle dragging a pedestrian along the ground in early October, the California DMV revoked its license to operate a driverless robotaxi service in the state.

Since then, Cruise has made some big changes, recalling its entire fleet of 950 vehicles and conducting major layoffs.

In short, despite years of training data, autonomous vehicle companies still have a lot of kinks to iron out. Are these just growing pains — or signs that the concept of self-driving taxis sharing the road with human drivers is inherently flawed?

It’s a contentious issue that’s only bound to become more heated as time goes on. For one, New York City mayor Eric Adams is welcoming Waymo with open arms, indicating a significant expansion of the company’s robotaxi services on the East Coast in the not-so-distant future.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also recently reiterated his promise of building out his own fleet of robotaxis. Whether it’ll fare better than Waymo or Cruise on public streets, needless to say, remains to be seen.

More on Waymo: New York City: Please Test Driverless Cars on Our Chaotic Streets

Self-Driving Waymo Spotted Plowing Down Wrong Side of Street

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