A Waymo self-driving car hit and killed a small dog in San Francisco, adding to tensions over the recent and widespread deployment of so-called robotaxis in the city.
The incident happened at 10:56 a.m. on May 21, in a neighborhood just east of Bernal Heights and close to a dog training facility at Toland Street, according to a Department of Motor Vehicles report. The dog was off leash.
The car was in "autonomous mode," but a Waymo test driver was in the driver's seat. The Waymo vehicle sustained minor damage, according to the California DMV report.
A Waymo spokesperson confirmed the incident details and said the company sends sincere condolences to the dog owner.
"The investigation is ongoing, however, the initial review confirmed that the system correctly identified the dog, which ran out from behind a parked vehicle, but was not able to avoid contact," a spokesperson said. "The trust and safety of the communities we are in is the most important thing to us, and we’re continuing to look into this on our end."
Waymo and its competitor, Cruise, are rolling to a relatively smooth approval by the California Public Utilities Commission to operate their robotaxis 24 hours a day in San Francisco.
But on May 31, city officials pushed back on Waymo’s deployment in a last-ditch effort to oppose robotaxis.
Monthly reported incidents involving Waymo driverless operations have increased six-fold this year, including instances where they interfered with emergency services, according to a comment letter from SF officials. City data also says that reported incidents involving driverless Waymo and Cruise vehicles more than tripled from 24 to 87 between January and April.
Draft resolutions released by the state utilities commission earlier this month deflected many of the concerns raised by San Francisco officials, who have cited issues including unplanned stops that obstructed traffic or interfered with public transit or emergency services. The utilities commission is slated to vote on whether to allow 24/7 robo-taxi service in San Francisco on June 29.
Alphabet, Google's parent company, operates Waymo. General Motors operates Cruise.
Liz Lindqwister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org