Waymo robotaxi accident with San Francisco cyclist draws regulatory review

(Reuters) – A driverless Waymo car collided with a cyclist in San Francisco on Tuesday causing minor injuries and the incident is being reviewed by the state’s auto regulator.

Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous driving unit, said by email on Tuesday it called the police to the scene and that it was also contacting relevant authorities about the incident.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is reviewing the incident and has no further comment at this time, it told Reuters by email on Wednesday.

Waymo said its vehicle was at a complete stop at a four-way intersection when a large truck turned into the intersection. At its turn to proceed, the Waymo car moved forward.

However, the cyclist was behind the truck and not visible as they crossed into the Waymo vehicle’s path. When the cyclist was fully visible, the Waymo’s vehicle braked heavily, but wasn’t able to avoid the collision, the company said.

A San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson said by email on Tuesday that a 911 call was made reporting the collision and the cyclist was not transported to the hospital. They said the San Francisco Police Department was investigating the incident.

The San Francisco Police Department told Reuters on Wednesday that it was investigating the cause of the collision.

Waymo has sought to expand its driverless service in Los Angeles, where it is now testing rides and allowing new rides only by invitation.

But robot car companies have run into resistance from some lawmakers and citizens who fear the vehicles are as yet unproven and pose a safety risk.

Cruise self-driving car unit revealed probes by the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission last month, after an accident in which one of its robotaxis struck a pedestrian and dragged her 20 feet.

Last year, more than two dozen unions urged U.S. auto safety regulators to open an industry-wide probe into driverless vehicles, deeming them “unsafe and untenable in their current form” due to a high number of crash incidents.

Reporting by Disha Mishra and Gnaneshwar Rajan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Mrinmay Dey, Abhirup Roy and Surbhi Misra; Editing by Savio D’Souza