Google’s autonomous vehicle division Waymo is under investigation by a California regulator after one of its vehicles struck a cyclist.
According to Reuters, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is currently investigating the incident and has yet to release any further comments.
A spokesperson from the San Francisco Fire Department confirmed to the news outlet a call to report the incident was made to emergency services and that the San Francisco Police Department is investigating.
According to a statement by Waymo provided to US media, the victim suffered minor injuries and left the scene. They weren’t taken to hospital.
“On February 6th at 17th Street and Mississippi Street in San Francisco, one of our vehicles was involved in a collision with a bicyclist. The Waymo vehicle was at a complete stop at a four-way intersection,” the company said.
“An oncoming large truck progressed through the intersection in our direction and then at our turn to proceed, we moved into the intersection.
“The cyclist was occluded by the truck and quickly followed behind it, crossing into the Waymo vehicle’s path.
“When they became fully visible, our vehicle applied heavy braking but was not able to avoid the collision. Waymo called the police to the scene and the cyclist left on their own, to our knowledge reporting only minor scratches.
“We are making contact with relevant authorities surrounding this event.”
Waymo has a fleet of driverless Jaguar I-Pace vehicles that operate in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix, with the lattermost city only receiving the robotaxis last month. They’ll be tested in phases there and will only be available to Waymo employees.
This is the latest incident involving a driverless taxi striking another road user.
On October 2, 2023, a driverless taxi operated by Waymo rival Cruise – owned by General Motors – was involved in a serious accident in San Francisco.
A driver in an oncoming lane committed a hit-and-run after striking a pedestrian, who was then thrown into the path of a Cruise taxi and struck again.
The company said the taxi mistakenly classified the impact with the pedestrian as a side-on collision and executed a pullover manoeuvre, rather than an emergency stop, dragging the pedestrian along the road.
After a string of high-profile incidents including the one mentioned above, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended Cruise’s operations in that state.
Cruise voluntarily paused its operations across the US after the incident, saying its actions fell “woefully short”, and various executives including the CEO left the company.
The company later released an independent report that found it had mishandled its dealings with regulators and media alike after the incident, breaching the trust of regulators as a result.