Elon Musk laughs at police stopping Waymo for driving into oncoming traffic

Elon Musk laughs at police stopping Waymo for driving into oncoming traffic

elon musk

What Happened: Musk on Thursday responded to a video shared on X of a driverless car being pulled over by the police in Phoenix. The car is seen in the video as rolling down the driver’s side window as the police approached when it didn’t even have a driver.

“Straight out of the “Silicon Valley” show. The comedy writes itself,” Musk wrote in response to the video. The CEO is referring to the television comedy series called Silicon Valley which parodies the culture of tech startups in the region. The show features Thomas Middleditch in the role of Richard, an introverted computer programmer.

The video snippet shared on X was first shared by azcentral, the digital version of The Arizona Republic newspaper. The full-length video shows the Phoenix police stopping a Waymo car after it drove into opposing lanes of traffic and conversing with a remote Waymo representative about the incident.

A Waymo spokesperson confirmed to Benzinga that the incident took place on Wednesday when the driverless vehicle encountered ‘inconsistent’ construction signage and briefly entered an unoccupied oncoming lane of traffic.

“A nearby police vehicle then pulled behind our vehicle, and in an effort to clear the intersection, the Waymo vehicle proceeded forward a short distance and pulled into the next available parking lot. The entire event lasted approximately one minute and there were no riders in the vehicle,” the spokesperson said.

Why It Matters: Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo is one of the key players in the field of autonomous driving. Tesla is also developing self-driving robotaxis, with their model expected to be unveiled on Aug. 8.

However, safety concerns continue to plague autonomous vehicle operators including Waymo.

In June, Waymo recalled 672 of its self-driving vehicles after identifying their inability to avoid a pole or pole-like objects. The company identified the issue after one of its self-driving cars collided with a wooden utility pole in an alleyway in Phoenix, Arizona in May, it said in a filing with the U.S. auto safety regulator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Waymo fixed the issue with a software update to improve its reaction to pole-like objects and “robust” mapping updates and improvements.

In May, NHTSA commenced a probe into Waymo vehicles following reports of unexpected driving behaviors. These reports included collisions with stationary and semi-stationary objects such as gates and chains, as well as collisions with other parked vehicles. Some instances also pertain to the driving system disobeying traffic rules.

The regulator expressed concern that these driving behaviors may increase the risks of crash and injury. “Although this office is unaware of injury allegations, several of the incidents involved collisions with clearly visible objects that a competent driver would be expected to avoid,” the regulator wrote in a letter to Waymo dated May 23.

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