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Waymo, the self-driving technology company, has voluntarily filed a recall report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) following a rare incident involving its fleet in Phoenix on December 11, 2023. The company has taken this step after conducting an internal review and consultation with the NHTSA.

The incident involved two Waymo vehicles making contact with a backwards-facing pickup truck being improperly towed. Despite the contact, no injuries occurred, and only minor vehicle damage was sustained. However, the company took the matter seriously and immediately began investigating the cause of the incident.

Waymo determined that the persistent orientation mismatch of the towed pickup truck and tow truck combination led to the Waymo autonomous vehicle (AV) incorrectly predicting the future motion of the towed vehicle. To address this issue, Waymo developed, rigorously tested, and validated a software fix. The fix was then deployed to the entire Waymo fleet between December 20, 2023, and January 12, 2024.

The company also promptly informed the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the NHTSA of the incidents. Following consultations with the NHTSA, Waymo concluded that it would be appropriate to submit a voluntary recall report of the software present on its fleet at the time of the two collisions.

Waymo emphasized its commitment to improving road safety, citing its extensive experience in autonomous driving, including over 10 million fully autonomous miles driven and over one million ride-hail trips served. In comparison to human drivers, the Waymo Driver’s performance resulted in a significant decrease in the rates of police-reported and injury-causing crashes in the cities where it runs, according to the company’s most recent research, which includes more than 20 safety articles.
The company’s decision to voluntarily recall the software demonstrates its commitment to safety and transparent communication with the public. Waymo respects the importance of the road safety framework and its legal obligations, and it will continue to prioritize safety as it serves more riders in more cities.

In conclusion, Waymo’s voluntary recall of its software reflects its dedication to safety and its proactive approach to addressing rare incidents. The company’s commitment to improving road safety and transparently communicating with the public is commendable, and it sets a positive example for other autonomous vehicle manufacturers.

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