‘It Doesn’t Know What to Do!:’ Waymo Driverless Taxi Causes Chaos for First Responders at Fire Scene

Waymo driverless car in San Francisco (waltarrrrr/Flickr)

A Waymo autonomous taxi caused chaos navigating a fire scene in San Francisco, exposing the challenges driverless vehicles face in reacting to unusual situations and commands from first responders. Police officers desperately worked to stop the driverless vehicle from running over a hose being used by firefighters to put out a fire. Body camera footage captured one officer explaining, “Got a bit of a pickle. I got an autonomous vehicle, the Waymo, it’s inching slowly and closely to one of the main water lines that the SF Fire just charged. Can’t run it over,” he says. “I don’t trust this AI.”

Business Insider reports that a Waymo autonomous taxi had trouble navigating a fire scene in San Francisco, highlighting the difficulties driverless cars have responding to unusual circumstances and commands from emergency personnel.

The Associated Press

In this April 7, 2021 file photo, a Waymo minivan arrives to pick up passengers for an autonomous vehicle ride, in Mesa, Ariz. Waymo’s self-driving ride-hailing service is branching out to San Francisco. The Alphabet, Inc., autonomous vehicle unit said Wednesday, March 30, 2022, it has started carrying employees in electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs without human backup drivers. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

According to a report from Mission Local, a Waymo-operated robotaxi stumbled upon the scene of an explosion-related fire and refused to move out of the way. Police officers can be seen using a variety of tactics to stop the electric car from running over a fire hose in body camera footage. “It doesn’t know what to do!” one officer shouted at the scene.

A policeman lit a flare in an effort to stop the car, hoping that the smoke would prevent the taxi from crossing the water line. Officers attempted to stop the taxi, but it kept moving forward, so they asked Waymo for assistance. One of the officers said to the dispatcher, “Got a bit of a pickle. I got an autonomous vehicle, the Waymo, it’s inching slowly and closely to one of the main water lines that the SF Fire just charged. Can’t run it over,” he says. “I don’t trust this AI.”

After speaking with a Waymo representative over the car’s speakers, the car was finally put into park. A short while later, a support vehicle arrived to remove the car from the scene.

A Waymo spokesperson told the insider that the company has upgraded its technology since the incident. “We work closely with public safety officials to ensure the safe introduction of our technology in every market that we operate in. As part of the training, Waymo outlines best practices, shares its first responder guide and provides a phone number to reach Waymo directly in the event of a stop,” the spokesperson said.

Despite these developments, responding to unusual circumstances or requests from emergency personnel remains difficult for autonomous taxis. In a recent TikTok video that went viral, a police officer repeatedly motioned for a Waymo taxi to stop, but the passengers inside laughed and tried to explain to the officer that they were not driving the car.

Breitbart News recently reported on traffic snarls in San Francisco caused by driverless vehicles.

In one recent incident this week, five Waymo self-driving cars blocked traffic on a residential street in San Francisco’s Balboa Terrace district. The thick fog that had covered the area appears to have prevented the autonomous vehicles from moving. The software-powered convoy encountered the fog and decided to stop, unintentionally causing a traffic jam, claims Waymo spokesperson Chris Bonelli. After some time, the fog lifted and traffic resumed its course after several minutes of confused attempts by other drivers to get around the self-driving cars.

Read more at Business Insider here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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