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30 Jan, 2023
2 min time to read

Transportation officials argue that the recent events and disruptions demonstrate a necessity for increased transparency regarding the vehicles and a temporary halt on expanding service.

Residents in San Francisco can currently summon a ride using autonomous vehicles from companies like Cruise and Waymo through a mobile app. However, a letter sent to a California regulator by city agencies claims that some riders have become too comfortable with the technology, falling asleep in the cars and requiring emergency services to intervene. The letter argues that these incidents have wasted public money and potentially diverted resources away from those truly in need. The letter is one of many sent this week by transportation officials in San Francisco and Los Angeles to the California Public Utilities Commission, expressing concerns that the technology is not yet ready and requesting more data and specific benchmarks from the companies before expanding their services.

According to San Francisco agencies, there have been a number of concerning and previously undisclosed incidents involving self-driving vehicles from Cruise. These include false alarms over sleeping riders and two incidents in which the vehicles impeded firefighters from doing their jobs. One incident occurred in June of last year, when one of the company's robotaxis ran over a fire hose at an active fire scene, which could have seriously injured firefighters. The second incident occurred just last week, when firefighters attending a major fire in the Western Addition neighborhood saw a driverless Cruise vehicle approaching and had to make efforts to prevent it from driving over their hoses, ultimately shattering the front window of the vehicle. The San Francisco Fire Department has confirmed that these incidents occurred and is currently in communication with Cruise regarding these encounters.

San Francisco transportation officials have written to the state's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) demanding more information from autonomous vehicle (AV) companies, including Cruise Automation and Waymo, which they say are wasting emergency resources by leaving cars in unexpected or unplanned stops on the city's streets. The PUC is considering the companies' applications to expand their AV fleets and services. In their letter, San Francisco officials ask that the PUC require companies to disclose data such as the number of miles driven and the number of unexpected stops, and to have performance standards in place before allowing expansion. Waymo, which received permission to pick up passengers in California in November, has asked for permission to pick up passengers in San Francisco 24/7.