Waymo needed to rescue an autonomous van that was confused by security cones

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Programming a pc to know and navigate roads designed for human drivers is difficult. Simply ask Elon Musk. Hardly ever, nonetheless, will we get to see simply what number of issues can go incorrect when an autonomous car encounters a state of affairs it does not know find out how to sort out. A 35-minute video from Joel Johnson (by way of Autoblog), a YouTuber who shares clips of his journeys with Waymo One in Arizona, provides a uncommon glimpse into an ideal storm of errors.

About 12 minutes into the video, Johnson’s automobile needs to show proper onto a multi-lane avenue. Sadly for Waymo Driver, the rightmost lane was closed, with building cones marking the obstruction. After the automobile stalls, not sure of what to do subsequent, a Waymo consultant contacts Johnson to inform him Roadside Help is on the way in which. Earlier than assist arrives, the automobile abruptly strikes to finish the flip, solely to cease between lanes. It then makes the state of affairs worse by backing up just a few toes. “Now it is blocking the entire lane as an alternative of half of it,” Johnson says dryly of the event.

At this level within the video, a building employee in a flatbed truck comes to gather the cones that had confused Waymo Driver. Proper as assist arrives, the automobile darts away from the state of affairs solely to come across extra cones and ship out one other name for assist. Earlier than a human driver can lastly board the automobile and drive Johnson to his vacation spot, Waymo Driver tries to dart away once more.

Waymo claims staff cannot remotely management a automobile. As a substitute, they’ll solely provide Waymo Driver ideas on find out how to navigate a difficult state of affairs. After encountering an “uncommon state of affairs” (the development cones) and asking for assist from a distant specialist, the corporate says, “the Fleet Response staff supplied incorrect steerage.” That is what led to the state of affairs escalating in the way in which it did.

“Whereas the state of affairs was not very best, the Waymo Driver operated the car safely till Roadside Help arrived,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement to Johnson. “All through, Waymo’s staff was in contact with the rider, who supplied considerate and useful suggestions that permits us to proceed studying and enhancing the Waymo Driver.” If there is a silver lining to the episode, it is that Johnson bought a free experience (and an entertaining video) out of it. Waymo, in the meantime, says it is already studied what occurred to enhance “our operational course of.”

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