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Waymo, the self-driving outfit owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, says it wants its autonomous cars to be much safer than humans. As if to prove its own point, a Waymo vehicle being driven by a human struck a person on a scooter in San Francisco Wednesday.
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The incident, which was first shared by WIRED reporter Tom Simonite, occurred at the intersection of McAllister and Larkin streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood. According to a Waymo spokesperson, "The autonomous specialist had recently disengaged the vehicle from autonomous mode and was driving in manual mode when the vehicle entered the intersection and made the left turn. After turning, and while still in manual mode, the vehicle came into contact with an individual on a motorized scooter." No serious injuries have yet been reported.Did you witness this crash? Have you witnessed or been involved with any other incidents involving self-driving vehicles? We'd love to hear from you. Email Aaron Gordon at email@example.com.The incident highlights the complicated dynamics around self-driving cars in cities, which were not designed for nor are best with lots of cars zipping around. And human drivers pose a distinct and well-documented threat to pedestrians, cyclists, scooter riders, and other people not in cars. But there is yet no clear evidence computer-controlled vehicles will be any better. And in the absence of reliable, independently verified data, the future remains uncertain and scary as billion-dollar corporations forge ahead rolling out a technology that may one day be an improvement over current practices but nevertheless scares a lot of people. But, as this Waymo driver reminded us, the present is pretty scary, too.