A group of five Waymo self-driving vehicles baffled some residents in San Francisco’s Balboa Terrace neighborhood after the autonomous fleet stopped in the middle of the residential street early Tuesday morning. Waymo later explained the rather unusual event.
The incident occurred shortly before 6 a.m. on San Aleso Avenue. At the time, there were some motorists on the street, though visibility was not optimal due to the fog in the area. Due to the Waymo vehicles, motorists were forced to cautiously navigate around the self-driving cars, one of which was reportedly straddling the center lane.
Gene Valla, a Balboa Terrace resident, described his encounter with the self-driving vehicles. Valla noted that he initially blinked his headlights at the Waymo fleet, and when he got out of his car to investigate, he found the vehicles were operating without a driver. “They were just idling,” Valla told the San Francisco Chronicle.
At that point, another driver was already in the area, also blinking his headlights as he approached the autonomous cars. The other driver ended up easing past the stopped Waymo fleet. Valla, for his part, backed out of the intersection and drove around the block to park in front of his house. He estimated that the Waymo cars remained stationary for at least six minutes before the first one started moving again.
While the incident was baffling at the time, Waymo later issued a comment about the matter. As noted in a KRON4 report, the vehicles pulled over temporarily when they encountered fog near San Aleso Avenue. The vehicles were back on the move once the fog cleared up. The autonomous driving company also noted that software updates are planned to improve its fleet’s performance during foggy conditions.
“We have software updates planned to improve our fog and parking performance to address such situations in the future,” Waymo noted.
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