Traffic Cones Confuse a Waymo Self-Driving Car

Will Hyatt

A confused Waymo car was caught on film driving aimlessly on an Arizona road earlier this month while carrying a passenger.  The car then continued to drive away from a roadside assistant worker as he arrived to help.

The Waymo soon became stuck further down a road that was lined with traffic cones. A Waymo worker finally caught up to the wandering car and took it over, driving the paying passenger to his desired destination.

Autonomous vehicle experts watched over the footage of the 41-minute trip posted to YouTube by the Waymo passenger.  The experts point out a series of gaps in the Waymo technology.

First, the Waymo vehicle paused at a stop sign rather than turning onto the street lined with traffic cones.  Waymo told CNN that the guidance given to the self-driving cart to reverse was improper and declined to elaborate on the instructions. Waymo has remote workers that can send directions to the self-driving cars when in trouble, but they are not able to take manual control of the cars.

The car eventually made the turn, proceeding to make a complete stop in the middle of the road, partially blocking one lane of traffic.  It is known that construction sites are difficult for autonomous cars to navigate through.  The cars have to rely on the behind-the-scenes workers to get them through these spots, which in this case did not do the job.

Waymo workers were awestruck, considering this was their first serious mishap. “I can’t believe this was let happen by the Waymo workers considering they have probably been trained for situations just like this one,” says Lakewood High School junior Aidan Sterling.