An autonomous AI-powered 'robo-taxi' owned by Waymo has reportedly hit and killed a small dog.
The incident occurred in an industrial area of San Francisco where the dog ran out from parked cars on the side of the road.
Despite a test driver being sat behind the wheel, the vehicle was unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with the animal. The investigation is ongoing.
This incident highlights the ongoing challenges that the development and implementation of self-driving autonomous vehicles face.
While theoretically safer than human-controlled vehicles, the AI technology is still being fine-tuned under real-world driving conditions, leading to a number of collision incidents.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 419 autonomous vehicle crash reports have been received as of January 15, 2023, with 18 of those leading to fatality in cases involving 'Level 2' autonomous technology.
However, no fatalities have been reported yet involving 'fully autonomous' self-driving vehicles.
According to The Register, Waymo said in a statement: "On May 21 in San Francisco, a small dog ran in front of one of our vehicles with an autonomous specialist present in the driver's seat, and unfortunately, contact was made.
"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.
“We send our sincere condolences to the dog's owner. 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."