Waymo shares in-depth details of self-driving car activity in Phoenix

Mariella Moon
·Associate Editor
·2-min read

Waymo’s vehicles have driven a total of 6.1 million miles in Phoenix, Arizona, where it first started testing its self-driving technology. That’s merely one of the many, many things the Alphabet-owned autonomous vehicle company has revealed in an in-depth report that details its activities in the Phoenix metro area. Apparently, 65,000 miles of that overall total were accomplished with no human driver behind the wheel. Also, from 2019 up until the first nine months of 2020, Waymo’s vehicles were involved in 18 minor accidents and 29 situations wherein the human driver had to seize control to avoid potential collisions.

The company’s vehicles were involved 16 rear-enders, eight of which were caused by other drivers crashing into them while they’re stopped or gradually decelerating for traffic ahead. Five of those events were caused by other drivers crashing into the vehicles while they’re slowing down to turn. Waymo was the striking vehicle in only one instance, wherein another vehicle swerved into the lane in front of it and hit the brakes hard.

There were three instances wherein a Waymo vehicle was struck by a bicycle or a pedestrian while it’s stationary. In two cases, a vehicle reversed into a Waymo while it’s not moving and moving below speed limit. Finally, the single head-on crash in the list happened at night while the other vehicle was traveling in the wrong direction. The company says nobody was seriously injured in any of the cases. “Nearly all events... involved one or more road rule violations or other driving performance deviations by another road user,” the company wrote.

Waymo said it’s releasing this information for the sake of transparency, since its vehicles are operating on public roads. It’s hoping the data can help inform policymakers, promote awareness and “foster greater public confidence in automated vehicles.” Earlier this year, the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education conducted a survey and found that a lot of Americans still don’t trust self-driving technologies. Waymo opened its driverless taxi service to the public in Phoenix earlier this month, and it needs to show the public its technology can be trusted if it’s to expand to more locations.