Waymo: Google’s self-driving cars are mysteriously drawn to a San Francisco cul-de-sac

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In San Francisco, California, a mystery surrounding self-driving cars has been in the news for the past few weeks. For some as yet unknown reason, the self-driving cars of Waymo, a self-driving technology development company owned by Alphabet Inc., find themselves mysteriously drawn into a dead end.

These cars circulate in San Francisco as part of the “Trusted Tester” program which aims to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. The vehicles are driven by artificial intelligence, although one can doubt its intelligence here. While self-driving cars generally make the headlines because of the accidents they cause, the situation here is much more fun.

Indeed, Waymo’s self-driving cars have started creating traffic jams in a dead end in the Richmond neighborhood, a residential area near Golden Gate Park. The inhabitants thus saw converge in their street an impressive quantity of autonomous vehicles. “I noticed it for the first time while I was asleep. I woke up to a strange hum. I thought there was a spaceship in front of my window ”, says Jennifer King to KPIX, a local resident. “Some days it can be up to 50 cars, literally every five minutes. We all work from home, so we hear them all the time. “

Waymo self-driving cars are drawn to a dead end and Google doesn't know why
Waymo self-driving cars are drawn to a dead end and Google doesn’t know why – Geeko Autonomous vehicles create traffic jams in this dead end. © KPIX

The mystery remains whole

During these tests, human operators are present in the vehicles to monitor the behavior of the vehicle and ensure that no problems arise. When vehicles run aground in this street, the operator must regain control of the car and operate difficult maneuvers to extricate themselves from the cul-de-sac and return to the main street. These maneuvers are all the more difficult as queues of autonomous cars form at times.

The reasons for this anomaly are still unknown. Nothing in this street or in the surroundings justifies such behavior. The company and Google are already assessing this situation and will certainly adjust their algorithms so that this situation does not happen again in this neighborhood.

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