Skip to content

Waymo issues recall after robocar collides with telephone pole

  • by
  • 2 min read

Waymo is recalling its self-driving taxis after one crashed into a telephone pole while on its way to pick up a passenger. The company is filing a voluntary software recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after it completed a software update to all 672 driverless vehicles in its convoy.

An error in the software assigned a low damage score to the telephone pole the taxi drove into. The software update corrected the low damage score and updated the map to include the alleyway’s hard edge, which was previously missing. The vehicle was unoccupied, and no bystanders were injured in the incident in Phoenix, Arizona. The passenger waiting for the car did not see the incident but recalled hearing it.

The unoccupied vehicle was driving through an alley lined by wooden telephone poles on either side. The poles were on the same level as the road and surrounded by yellow stripes that guide vehicles. The robotaxi struck the pole at a speed of around 12 kilometres per hour and sustained damage.

Waymo’s engineers deployed the recall at the central depot, where all the vehicles returned for testing and regular maintenance. The company is under investigation by the NHTSA for more than 24 incidents involving autonomous vehicles, including many single-vehicle crashes and possible traffic violations.

It is Waymo’s second recall. The first was prompted in early 2024 when two of its autonomous cars crashed into the same pickup truck. For the first incident, Waymo said that it was caused by a persistent orientation mismatch between the tow truck and the vehicle being towed, which led to an incorrect prediction of its movement. The incident led to a recall of 444 vehicles in February 2024.

Driverless cars are under increased scrutiny as many companies, such as Cruise and Tesla, have been linked to accidents that caused injuries and possibly death. Out of the said companies, Cruise had its license to operate in California suspended after one of their autonomous taxis accidentally dragged an individual hit by another vehicle in San Francisco.

In the News: JetBrains fixes IntelliJ bug exposing GitHub access tokens

Arun Maity

Arun Maity

Arun Maity is a journalist from Kolkata who graduated from the Asian College of Journalism. He has an avid interest in music, videogames and anime. When he's not working, you can find him practicing and recording his drum covers, watching anime or playing games. You can contact him here: