GM’s Cruise driverless robotaxi service has been rolled out to San Francisco successfully, but the cars themselves have caused some headaches for motorists in the city. This is represented by several incidents involving Cruise’s driverless robotaxis causing issues in traffic due to technical difficulties.
Just last week, at least three of Cruise’s robotaxis were reportedly responsible for holding up traffic in San Francisco. One even reportedly blocked a bus lane, stopping just inches away from a Muni bus. Due to the driverless car’s behavior, the bus driver had to maneuver around the robotaxi. Another Cruise vehicle was sighted stopped in the middle of the road at Sacramento and Mason streets, with its lights flashing and its radio on blast.
In a statement on Tuesday to the San Francisco Gate, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) noted that it was aware of the incidents involving GM’s driverless robotaxis. A spokesperson from the CPUC also noted that the commission is working with autonomous vehicle companies to gather details about the incidents.
“We are working with the (autonomous vehicle) companies to understand their frequency, location, and the conditions under which they occur. In general, if an AV company violates their permit conditions, the CPUC has the authority to suspend or revoke their operating authority,” the spokesperson said.
Cruise spokesperson Drew Pusateri stated that the driverless vehicles stopped because of a “technical issue.” To address the incidents, a team from the company was dispatched to each vehicle, with teams arriving within 20 minutes of the disruptions. There were no collisions or injuries reported from the incidents as well.
“Safety is the guiding principle of everything we do. That means if our cars encounter a situation where they aren’t able to safely proceed, they stop and turn on their hazard lights, and we either get them operating again or pick them up as quickly as possible. This could be because of a mechanical issue like a flat tire, a road condition, or a technical problem. We’re working to minimize how often this happens, and apologize to anyone impacted,” the Cruise spokesperson said.
That being said, waiting about 20 minutes for an autonomous car that’s blocking the road would likely be considered extremely inconvenient by motorists and commuters alike. Twenty minutes is a lot of time, after all, especially in emergencies. Overall, Cruise should probably consider using safety drivers — similar to Tesla owners in the FSD Beta program — for its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. This way, human drivers could quickly correct a robotaxi if or when an issue occurs.
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