OAKLAND, Calif — Self-driving tech company Waymo, which this month opened its driverless taxi service in the Phoenix suburbs to the public, on Friday said its autonomous vehicles there had been involved in 18 minor incidents since 2019 during tests and actual rides.
Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc, said it was releasing the data to improve transparency and open a public dialogue. Some residents have complained about the hundreds of Waymo vans driving around town, telling Reuters in the past that their driving patterns were dangerous as they stopped too often, running the risk of being rear-ended by a human driver.
Waymo also said it hopes its safety data will help companies and regulators devise industry-wide safety standards for self-driving cars.
According to the data, the Waymo vehicles in Phoenix had minor incidents once for about every 339,000 miles traveled and another 29 incidents were avoided with the intervention of a safety driver. That amounted to once in every 210,000 miles. Still none of the events, including those that were prevented, would have led to serious injuries, it said.
Waymo cars were rear ended 11 times, according to the data. Matthew Schwall, head of field safety at Waymo told reporters in a briefing that an analysis of the Phoenix operations show that its cars were not rear ended more than the average human-driven vehicle there.
He said that of the incidents recorded in Arizona, eight of the most significant ones involved human errors. Also he said Waymo self-driving technology was able to always avoid incidents like striking a fixed object or departing a roadway. These, he noted, are frequent incidents with human drivers that can lead to fatalities.
Schwall declined to say if Waymo would release collision and safety data on a regular basis.
(Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee, Additional Reporting Paul Lienert; Editing by David Gregorio)