Confused robo-taxis block freeway in San Francisco

A line of stuck Alphabet's Waymo driverless taxis blocked traffic and frustrated residents in the Bay Area.

Videos of frustrated drivers uploaded on social media showed seven Waymo robo-taxis blocking the traffic on the 101 on-ramp in San Francisco late Tuesday evening.

The robo-taxis encountered a road blockage with cones and most likely got confused, as Waymo driverless cars aren’t yet operating fully autonomously on the freeway.

Line of driverless Waymos glitch out and block the Portrero Avenue 101 onramp
byu/dzdaniel84 insanfrancisco

The video showed the queue of driverless cars and the driver of a regular car getting out and moving the cones to pass by the taxi jam. Cybernews has contacted Waymo for more details regarding the incident.

“I was driving back home just now when the traffic came to a sudden stop on the 101 onramp. After sitting in the car waiting for several minutes, a couple of people came out and started moving traffic cones and a construction sign to allow traffic to pass through,” writes a Reddit user.

“I'm not sure how much traffic passed through since there was a Muni bus right behind me that couldn't take this detour, but it was a pretty shitty situation all around. I guess autonomous vehicles still aren't fully there yet,” the user concluded.

People moving construction cones to allow traffic to bypass a line of stalled driverless Waymos in San Francisco

Owned by Google parent company Alphabet, Waymo has been operating a commercial autonomous taxi service in the city of San Francisco since last August, and it said it offers tens of thousands of rides weekly.

At the beginning of March, Waymo got permission to expand its service and start operating on freeways in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Peninsula at speeds of up to 65 mph. This new permission has unlocked new territories for the service, such as the San Francisco International Airport.

However, despite that, the company is taking the expansion of its service slowly, as driverless cars on the freeway involve additional risks. Currently, Waymo is testing the cars on freeways with safety drivers behind the wheel.

Driverless cars are still causing safety concerns. Reportedly, a Waymo self-driving car killed a small dog in San Francisco in 2023. According to the company, the car system managed to identify the dog correctly, but it was too late to stop. The same year, two driverless cars crashed into a tow truck.

In February this year, a driverless Waymo car collided with a cyclist in San Francisco, causing minor injuries. The same month, Waymo recalled 444 self-driving vehicles after two minor back-to-back collisions in Arizona because of a software error.

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