Monday, July 15, 2024
Cruise collides with a fire truck in San Francisco. Photo: @Friscolive415
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Cruise told by regulators to reduce robotaxi fleet 50% following crash with San Francisco fire truck

“Several factors added complexity to this specific incident” Cruise says

Cruise, the self-driving car subsidiary of GM, has been asked to reduce its robotaxi fleet by 50% in San Francisco following a crash  with a fire truck, Reuters News Agency reports. Police said the sole passenger in the autonomous vehicle (AV) was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles requested the reduction in operations. The state agency said it is investigating recent concerning incidents involving Cruise vehicles in San Francisco. It called for Cruise to reduce its fleet by 50% and have no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day and 150 driverless vehicles in operation at night until the investigation is complete.

Cruise stated in a blog post, “In terms of what occurred around the scene of the collision there are many aspects that looked typical from the AV’s perspective and several factors that added complexity to this specific incident. 

“The AV positively identified the emergency vehicle almost immediately as it came into view, which is consistent with our underlying safety design and expectation. It is worth noting, however, that the confines of this specific intersection make visual identification more challenging – for humans and AVs alike – as it is significantly occluded by buildings, meaning that it is not possible to see objects around the corner until they are physically very close to the intersection. 

“The AV’s ability to successfully chart the emergency vehicle’s path was complicated by the fact that the emergency vehicle was in the oncoming lane of traffic, which it had moved into to bypass the red light.”

Cruise has had a series of challenges, including at least 10 of its driverless cars reportedly stalling and blocking traffic, which threatens to derail its commercial plans. The issues come just a week after winning approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to expand commercial operations in San Francisco.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) the agency that regulates ride-hailing operations including those involving robotaxis, approved Cruise and Waymo on August 10 for final permits that allow the companies to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, expand their fleets and charge for rides throughout the city.

However, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu filed motions with the CPUC to pause Cruise and Waymo’s plans to charge for robotaxi rides in the city at all hours. Chiu’s arguments parallel comments made by residents and other city officials during a public hearing ahead of the CPUC’s vote.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last week voted to allow robotaxis from Cruise and Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Waymo to operate at all hours of the day throughout San Francisco and charge passengers for rides despite strong opposition from residents and city agencies. The two have been running robotaxi tests limited by times and geographic areas within San Francisco.