Waymo Self-Driving Taxi Goes Rogue, Blocking Traffic & Evading Capture
YouTuber JJRicks Studios has shared a video of a Waymo self-driving taxi that woke up and chose chaos. The vehicle blocked traffic and evaded capture, and JJ rode in the backseat throughout the whole ordeal. The ride started in the parking lot. As he sat in the back, JJ said, “There’s lots of interesting turns coming up so we see what we get.” Moments after he said this, the vehicle took an unprotected right turn.
As the vehicle continues to drive, he points out a way to get Waymo’s attention on social media — just by mentioning it. Waymo staff reportedly review every mention of Waymo — whether using a tag or hashtag or not.
The vehicle stops at a red light and then takes an unprotected left turn, something that certain critics were convinced it couldn’t do. After merging into the right lane, the vehicle took another unprotected turn, a right turn this time. It takes more unprotected left turns, too.
One thing JJ complains about is that the vehicle often decides to take shortcuts through neighborhoods in an odd way. JJ states, “I hope whatever improvements they make with the 5th gen driver, that it eliminates the need for these weird reroutes and whatnot.”
Waymo Robotaxi Runs Into Dead End
After another unexpected left turn, JJ paused the video to give the following explanation — a warning about the chaos you’re about to see.
“Waymo has provided me with an official statement explaining what you’re about to see. Though, as the videomaker, I retain complete editorial control in order to maintain full transparency, I will not cut or shorten any part of the video leading up to the disengagement. But in order to not waste your time, I have provided timestamps in the description so you can skip through the events as you please.”
Following that is Waymo’s official statement.
“While driving fully autonomously through an extended work zone, the Waymo Driver detected an unusual situation and requested the attention of a remote Fleet Response specialist to provide additional information. During that interaction, the Fleet Response team provided incorrect guidance, which made it challenging for the Waymo Driver to resume its intended route, and required Waymo’s Roadside Assistance team to complete the trip. While the situation was not ideal, the Waymo Driver operated the vehicle safely until Roadside Assistance arrived. Throughout, Waymo’s team was in touch with the rider, who provided thoughtful and helpful feedback that allows us to continue learning and improving the Waymo Driver. Our team has already assessed the event and improved our operational process.”
Returning back to the video, JJ noticed that the right lane was closed off and wondered how the vehicle planned to turn right. The planner, he noted, showed that the vehicle wanted to go into the lane.
“I don’t think it’s gonna take this turn. We might be stuck,” he said while laughing. He called roadside service. He tells the service tech that there’s some funky stuff going on. The roadside service tech noted that the car looked as if it had paused, so they sent Waymo Roadside Assistance to help. “Roadside Assistance is going to be on their way. They’re going to be arriving in a yellow vest,” the tech said while giving him more information on that.
The tech also asked him to remain seated and with his seatbelt on just in case the car decided to start moving again. One notable question she asked JJ was if he’d ever been stranded before, and he said two or three times — then seemingly clarifying two, before this instance. JJ pointed out that he does this expecting something to happen every once in a while.
As he is sitting there waiting on Roadside Assistance to arrive, the vehicle comes back to life and makes the turn … and then does something else. “Oh, now it’s blocking the entire road!” The vehicle notifies him that his arrival is in one minute which is odd since his planned destination was not in the middle of the road.
After more glitches, the tech on the phone realized that she didn’t even have Roadside Assistance assigned as of right then and this was due to the car no longer being stranded. “Now it does look like you’re stranded again,” she said, adding that she would try to get a Roadside Assistance team assigned (again).
Funky Stuff Goin’ On
Finally, Roadside Assistance appears … but then seems to disappear. It should be noted that JJ was under the impression that there was always a Roadside Assistance team following behind the vehicle. The fact that it took so long for them to catch up is curious, indicating that’s not the case.
“Is there one currently always assigned to follow or just trail from a distance — every fully autonomous or are they just kinda hanging around, if you can say that ?” he asked the tech on the phone.
“So, they’re actually not assigned per vehicle. They are going to be in the area so there may be two or three vehicles — we don’t know how many vehicles in the area — so they will be in a centralized area where some of those vehicles will be. So, they’re usually between two and five miles out,” she replied. “It never was assigned one to one.”
Runaway Autonomous Car
The vehicle starts to move again by backing out and starts blocking just the entire lane instead of half of it. People start honking at JJ in the Waymo vehicle. During all of this, there is a bit of construction going on and the vehicle is kind of in the way of their work. JJ rolls his window down and assured one of the workers that Waymo’s assistant team is on the way to fix the issue and apologized.
“They can’t move it out the way?” the construction workers asked, to which JJ replied that they will in a second. As they are conversing, the vehicle starts to move. The vehicle takes off and JJ thinks that it fixed itself. “We are rolling,” he confirmed to the tech.
However, all is not well, as the car is actually running away from Roadside Assistance and ends up getting stuck again. JJ had to call Roadside Assistance again, and when they finally arrive (for real this time), the car runs away again. Finally, the car doors unlock and it stops for good. JJ takes a screenshot of the app and Roadside Assistance is able to catch up and board the vehicle; disengaging it and continuing the trip manually.