When Joel Johnson’s Waymo One taxi came across traffic cones blocking off the rightmost lane that the car needed to turn into, it couldn’t complete the right turn on its route. Mind you, it was a multi-lane road with light traffic, and if it just went around the cones, the catastrophe would have been avoided.
But the AI driver was confused and stalled the car, which called Roadside Assistance. While Johnson waited for help to arrive, the car decided that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. It made the turn, but the car then stopped between the rightmost lane and the next, then backed up a little, effectively blocking the whole lane as it stopped between two traffic cones.
To make the whole situation a little more hilariouly moot, construction workers came to remove the cones while the Waymo car was stuck, which prompted it to try and drive away right as help arrived. The car then found more cones, and finally gave up.
Roadside Assistance eventually caught up with the ever-fleeing taxi, and a human took over for the rest of the ride. The company says the whole situation occurred because the Fleet Response team provided incorrect guidance to the Waymo Driver AI, which made it “challenging” for it to resume its route.
In an official statement, Waymo said, “While the situation was not ideal, the Waymo Driver operated the vehicle safely until Roadside Assistance arrived.” The statement goes on to say that the team has already assessed the event and made improvements.
Sure, while everything ended up fine and Johnson actually got a free ride out of it, I’m not sure I’m exactly itching to go try out the fully autonomous taxi any time soon.
*By Jennimai Nguyen, Mashable*