A Waymo self-driving vehicle was involved in a serious accident in Chandler, Arizona earlier this afternoon. Local police said there were minor injuries from the incident after a sedan swerved into the Waymo van to avoid another collision.
Although Waymo has said it will be testing vehicles without safety drivers in Arizona, this was not one of them. An operator was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash, though the car was in autonomous mode, police said.
Aerial footage and images posted online by onlookers show that this was no fender-bender. The sedan’s front crumple zone is wrecked and glass is broken; the van is in better shape, though its front right tire is crushed in. Both vehicles have since been towed.
Reportedly the sedan was traveling eastbound and swerved to avoid another car at an intersection, straying into the westbound lanes and hitting the Waymo van. What actions if any the latter took to avoid the collision are unknown at this time, though an analysis by the company would of course provide that info. I’ve asked the company for comment and will update if I hear back.
Update: The police provided me with the following statement, which doesn’t add much but confirms the above:
We are currently investigating a minor injury collision involving two vehicles, one of which is a Waymo autonomous vehicle. This afternoon around noon a vehicle (Honda sedan) traveling eastbound on Chandler Blvd. had to swerve to avoid striking a vehicle traveling northbound on Los Feliz Dr. As the Honda swerved, the vehicle continued eastbound into the westbound lanes of Chandler Blvd. & struck the Waymo vehicle, which was traveling at a slow speed and in autonomous mode. There was an occupant in the Waymo vehicle sitting in the driver’s seat, who sustained minor injuries. Both the Waymo vehicle & the Honda were towed from the scene. This incident is still under investigation
Waymo has also provided the following statement and video of the accident from the van’s point of view:
Today while testing our self-driving vehicle in Chandler, Arizona, another car traveling in an oncoming lane swerved across the median and struck our minivan.
Our team’s mission is to make our roads safer – it is at the core of everything we do and motivates every member of our team.
We are concerned about the well-being and safety of our test driver and wish her a full recovery.