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Self-driving car using Google-owned Waymo tech involved in crash

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2017 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivan equipped with Waymo’s fully self-driving technology (Image courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

A car that veered into oncoming traffic struck a self-driving minivan operated by Google's Waymo division in suburban Phoenix last week. The crash was the second in a six-week span involving autonomous test vehicles in Arizona.

Unlike the fatal crash in March involving a Volvo XC90 using Uber's experimental self-driving tech that killed a pedestrian, police immediately ruled out the Waymo Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Police in Chandler, Arizona, said that the Waymo van was not the "violator vehicle" in the crash. Instead, a Honda that swerved to avoid another vehicle but lost control and struck the Waymo van was blamed.

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Chandler police reported that the Waymo vehicle was in autonomous mode with a human backup driver behind the wheel at the time of the crash, but Waymo representatives said that it was in manual mode.


“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,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”

Both vehicles suffered major physical damage and had to be towed from the scene. The occupant in the Waymo vehicle was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries.

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