Waymo's Self-Driving Car Ends Up In Arizona Chain Crash

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A self-driving vehicle from Google's technology spin-off Waymo was involved in a five-car traffic accident in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, this Saturday night, Associated Press reports. Local authorities confirmed the development but noted no serious injuries stemmed from the ordeal. While the vehicle in question had autonomous capabilities, it was operated by a human driver at the time of the crash, with the fault reportedly laying on another person who failed to stop at a red light and ended up hitting Waymo's custom-built Chrysler Pacifica minivan prototype.

Following the collision, Waymo's vehicle ended up hitting three others, according to preliminary reports on the matter. Another one of the firm's experimental cars was also involved in a similar traffic accident last month in a different Phoenix suburb, though it reportedly wasn't at fault for the crash either. Arizona is one of the most welcoming states for autonomous driving companies but such solutions recently came under a new level of public and regulatory scrutiny after a Volvo XC90 SUV from Uber's automated fleet ended up killing a woman from Tempe, Arizona. While the 49-year-old pedestrian was at fault for the accident as she was jaywalking on a high-speed, four-lane road at night, authorities believe the self-driving vehicle recognized her six seconds before the impact but failed to stop as its automated systems weren't able to access to emergency braking mechanism.

Uber permanently shut down its Tempe operations and suspended all other ones across the country following the incident but plans to restart its testing program this summer, as recently indicated by its Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi. The company's autonomous vehicle technologies are still widely estimated to be far behind those of Waymo and likely won't allow it to win the self-driving race in the U.S. Uber is still prioritizing growth and R&D efforts over profits, having repeatedly said it's targeting an IPO in 2019.

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