Waymo, competitor to GM autonomous vehicle and robotaxi subsidiary Cruise, has seen its self-driving vehicles involved in considerably more accidents in San Francisco over the past 20 months than their Cruise counterparts.
However, while Waymo vehicles experienced more crashes, injuries appear to be far more common during accidents involving Cruise vehicles than in those with Waymo vehicles, The San Francisco Standard reports.
California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data from January 1st, 2022 to the present shows Waymo vehicles involvement in 103 reported accidents. Meanwhile, Cruise AVs have played a role in 68 crashes during the same time period.
This data is potentially skewed by the fact it shows total accidents rather than a rate per hundred vehicles, number of driverless miles traveled, or similar measurements. Robotaxi fleet size is comparable between the competitors, with Waymo operating 250 robotaxis in Frisco as of early August, while Cruise deploys 100 AVs in the daytime and 300 overnight.
However, Waymo says its self-driving vehicles cover considerably higher mileage than its rivals, potentially explaining the difference in total accidents.
While Waymo AVs get involved in more accidents, only two injuries resulted from these crashes during the period in question. Accidents involving Cruise AVs caused 14 injuries during the same timeframe, despite being far less in number overall. Five of the Cruise injuries were serious enough to require emergency medical assistance, including one in which a bicyclist rode into a braking AV’s rear end.
Regardless of whether or not injuries occurred, Waymo and Cruise were struck by human drivers more often than they caused accidents. According to Waymo research, 55 percent of collisions happen because a human driver runs into an immobile AV. Even with moving collisions, many result from a human-driven car (or, as noted, a high-speed bicyclist) rear-ending a self-driving vehicle.
Cruise indirectly confirmed Waymo’s claim that higher AV activity and numbers leads to more collisions by agreeing to cut AV numbers following another accident involving a fire truck. The DMV notes the robotaxi service “has agreed to a 50 percent reduction and will have no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day and 150 driverless vehicles in operation at night,” at least until the current DMV investigation wraps up.
Cruise AVs have been involved in several high-profile incidents in the city recently, including a robotaxi that got bogged down in wet concrete on Golden Gate Avenue in mid-August and needed to be pulled free.