Video: Waymo Vehicle Crashes in Chandler

Video: Waymo Vehicle Crashes in Chandler
Matt Jaffee/Twitter

A Waymo self-driving vehicle was struck by another car during what appeared to be a head-on collision in Chandler.

The Waymo minivan was not at fault during the crash that occurred at the intersection of Chandler Boulevard and Los Feliz Drive, said Seth Tyler, a Chandler Police Department detective.

"The Waymo vehicle is not the violator vehicle. It just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Tyler told Phoenix New Times.

The driver behind the wheel of the Waymo minivan sustained minor injuries, Tyler said, but he could not confirm whether the other driver had injuries. Both vehicles had to be towed after the collision, which was first reported by ABC15.

Waymo is a self-driving car initiative from Google's parent company Alphabet. Chandler police initially said that the Waymo vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash; however, several hours after the collision, the company released a statement saying that the car was in manual mode.

“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," Waymo said in the statement. “We are concerned about the well-being and safety of our test driver and wish her a full recovery.”

In an email, Tyler said that the officer was told at the scene that the car was in autonomous mode, but that Waymo personnel later confirmed to police that the car was in manual mode.

On Friday night, Waymo also released video captured by the self-driving vehicle's onboard cameras, which shows a sedan barreling across the median in order to avoid another car after running a red light. Just before the sedan strikes it, the Waymo driver appears to step on the brakes.

"The Waymo vehicle was rolling, but I don’t think it was going very fast," Tyler said.

A photo from the scene posted on Twitter from a bystander, Matt Jaffee, shows a white Waymo minivan sitting near the curb with damage to the driver's door and front left side of the vehicle. The front bumper and hood of another vehicle at the intersection, a gray sedan, were nearly destroyed.

Arizona has become a testing ground for the nascent technology of autonomous vehicles under Governor Doug Ducey, and the self-driving vehicles of Waymo and Uber are a common sight on Valley roads. On the night of March 18, an Uber car operating in autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe. It was the first pedestrian death caused by a self-driving vehicle.

After 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg was killed crossing the street in Tempe, Ducey suspended indefinitely Uber's ability to test-drive on Arizona roads, but did not address Waymo.

This article has been updated with video and a statement provided by Waymo.

Correction, May 5: An earlier version of this article stated that Waymo released video of the crash on Tuesday night. The footage was released on Friday night.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty