Waymo automobiles getting caught at San Francisco intersection

One by one, Waymo vehicles piled up at the end of an otherwise sleepy intersection in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond neighborhood.

The cars lurched to a halt, as if confused by the sign blocking their path, as they gave a strange mechanical hum. Then they did a U-turn, reversed, and headed south on 15th Avenue toward California Street, where they had come from.

A video shared by KPIX Thursday morning shows the Waymo cars performing the repetitive (and admittedly hilarious) dance that has puzzled neighborhood residents for weeks. The incident also caught the attention of Elon Musk.


– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2021

“There are days when it can be up to 50 [cars]“Resident Jennifer King told KPIX. “We talked to the drivers, they don’t have much to say unless the car is programmed and they just do their job.”

The autonomous white SUVs with a blue and green W are ubiquitous in the neighborhood and across San Francisco as they gather traffic and other road map information, though it’s unusual for so many of them to get stuck at the same time. However, the cause of the jam is pretty simple.

“We are constantly adapting to the dynamic road rules of San Francisco. In this case, cars traveling on 15th Avenue north of California will have to turn around due to the signs for Slow Streets on Lake, ”a Waymo spokesman told SFGATE in a statement. “So the Waymo driver followed the same road rules that every car must obey.”

The section of Lake Street between 2nd and 28th Avenues was approved as permanent Slow Street on August 3 by the board of directors of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Cars are only allowed to travel less than a block down Slow Street before reaching their destination.

Lake Street was established as a permanent Slow Street on August 3, causing Waymo vehicles to stop and turn around.

Amanda Bartlett / SFGATE

By Thursday noon the hustle and bustle seemed to be over. Only a couple of moving trucks blocked the intersection, and there wasn’t a single Waymo vehicle in sight – until about 10 minutes later I spotted one of the cars traveling west along California Street even though it wasn’t trying to turn right on 15th Avenue .

Waymo said it is currently restricting cars on the road.

No Waymo cars here - the road was mostly clear until Thursday afternoon.

No Waymo cars here – the road was mostly clear until Thursday afternoon.

Amanda Bartlett / SFGATE

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