Passenger says her driverless taxi was programmed to make a risky turn into oncoming traffic. She can’t change it

@sosobombs/TikTok alison/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

’48 minutes in the car by myself with no driver???’: Passenger says her driverless taxi was programmed to make a risky turn into oncoming traffic. She can’t change it

'Waymo? Waymo anxiety.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Mar 8, 2024   Updated on Mar 11, 2024, 11:09 am CDT

Automated systems are a dream come true for businesses and consumers who yearn for transactional experiences without human contact. Theoretically, by automating these processes, companies can save money on employee overhead or use the human aspect for matters that require more involved variables like multi-tasking, and spur-of-the-moment requests.

And while introducing automated systems doesn’t always mean that businesses will cut back their prices (just ask this lady who was prompted to tip at a self-service kiosk), at least you can rely on machines to not make the same errors as humans…right?

Well, that doesn’t seem to be the experience Sophia Lovász (@sosobombs) had while riding in a “driverless Taxi” by Waymo, which offers automated car rides controlled by a computer system.

“Why get a boring Uber when you can get a driverless taxi that tries to make unprotected left turns,” Lovász writes in a text overlay of her video.

She records the Jaguar vehicle, with no one sitting in the driver’s seat, pulling up to an intersection and stopping. It waits, using its automated system to assess the safety of making a turn and merging into traffic

“Normally, in a situation like this where you’re gonna be making an unprotected left turn across a busy…three, lane street, cars would let you through?” she says. “I’m curious to see how the Waymo operates in this situation.”

The Waymo Jaguar inches forward, with another vehicle blocking in front of it.

She then points her camera to the car’s infotainment screen, showing what it “thinks it’s going to do at this moment,” adding that the vehicle’s system can “change its mind and go somewhere else.”

She points out how the other car that stopped in front of her blocked the Waymo’s ability to make the unprotected left turn across the intersection.

Several seconds pass in the unedited video, with the click-clack of the turn signal echoing throughout the car. Another car goes in front of her vehicle leaving her in a left-turn limbo. The video cuts to her, still in her spot, where the TikToker says that she’s almost tempted to try and interfere with the automated driving experience by “reaching over and honking the horn.”

“The cars keep blocking us, which they’re not supposed to do,” she says, but because the whips keep on blocking her, she says she’s left “just chilling” in the spot, unable to make the turn.

However, finally, the vehicle begins to inch forward into the intersection, veering into the left turn it needs to make.

“That was so close!” Lovász says, laughing as the vehicle completes the turn. She pans the camera back to her face, breathing heavily. “Ahh it was so close!” she says with another laugh.


This is one way to spice up your commute

♬ original sound – Sophia Lovász

Legal team Cavanaugh & Thickens cited statistics from the National Transport Safety Authority, writing that there have been hundreds of reports citing autonomous vehicle crashes, with many of the incidents involving Teslas.

The outlet writes that for every million miles driven in autonomous cars, there are about 9.1 crashes—statistics show that the rate of fatalities and injuries in human car crashes are higher than those that occur in automated systems.

C&T would go on to write that there have been fatalities associated with autonomous driving systems as per the NTSA: “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), self-driving cars resulted in at least 11 deaths in a four-month period in 2022 across the U.S,” and that in 2023 in just the state of California, there were over 100 autonomous car crashes.

This isn’t the first time that a Waymo vehicle has gone viral: a driverless car for the service recently was stuck inside a parking lot. Then there was the time a whip from a different company, Cruise, had two of its automated vehicles in Austin, Texas block a busy city street.

Many commenters who saw Lovász’s video cracked jokes about the situation, with one person writing, “I’d be so embarrassed if someone beeped at me and I’m just sat in the passenger seat by myself LOL.”

Another questioned the legalities of getting pulled over in one of these vehicles.

“If waymo gets pulled over how does it give the officer its license and registration????” they said.

Someone else quipped, “Waymo? Waymo anxiety.”

While others felt bad for the little robot car, with one saying, “Poor Waymo. Just quietly taking your insults with his little blinker on.”

Another remarked, “You waymo brave than me cause I would never get in a car with no driver lol.”

Some said that as advanced as the technology has gotten, they didn’t feel confident enough to step inside an automated car.

“Every time I see one of these videos, I realize I’m simply not ready to trust this kind of technology yet,” one wrote.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Waymo via email and the TikToker via TikTok comment.

Update 11:06am CT, Mar. 11, 2024:

In an email to the Daily Dot, Waymo provided the following statement clarifying the difference between Tesla and Waymo:

“Teslas are NOT autonomous vehicles, and their data should never be correlated with Waymo,” the spokesperson wrote. “Waymo vehicles are fully autonomous (or level 4) where Teslas are level 2 driver assist systems.”

The spokesperson then referenced their safety record in a blog detailing the stats from their first 7.1M miles of driving.

“An 85% reduction or 6.8 times lower crash rate involving any injury, from minor to severe and fatal cases,” the blog stated.

It continued, “A 57% reduction or 2.3 times lower police-reported crash rate.”

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*First Published: Mar 8, 2024, 2:00 pm CST