Amid the rise of autonomous vehicles, some wonder how these cars will react to unexpected events. A flurry of discussion ensued last year when one company prioritized the safety of their autonomous vehicles over that of pedestrians. A new video escalated tension; a car from the Waymo autonomous taxi service in Chandler, Arizona, experienced trouble handling interaction with road construction.
The video, posted by YouTuber JJRicks Studios, uncovered significant issues that the Waymo taxi must overcome; the autonomous car seemed confused by construction zone stimuli. The van was supposed to turn right onto a multi-lane road. Cones blocked the lane. Seemingly unable to decide what to do, the van froze in place, blocking Traffic. It sent a signal for roadside assistance. Before assistance arrived, the van attempted the turn, only to shift into reverse and block the entire road.
Construction workers tried to resolve the situation by removing the cones. Even with a cleared road, the Waymo van wouldn’t correctly respond. It drove for another block, stopped, and waited for roadside assistance. Human operators ultimately moved the van out of Traffic, allowed the passenger to exit, and cleared the street.
The van’s malfunction causes concern for construction workers, especially in the rise of last year’s work zone fatalities to more than any year since 2006. Waymo declined to comment on the video.