The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on Friday ordered Cruise to reduce its fleet of driverless taxis by half pending an investigation into recent crashes. “Cruise has agreed to a 50% reduction and will have no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day and 150 driverless vehicles in operation at night,” a statement Friday evening from the DMV said. “The DMV reserves the right, following the investigation of the facts, to suspend or revoke testing and/or deployment permits if there is determined to be an unreasonable risk to public safety.” The operational reduction will remain until the investigations are complete and Cruise “takes appropriate corrective actions to improve road safety.” A Cruise spokesperson confirmed the company will comply.
The investigation arose after a driverless Cruise car with a passenger inside collided with a fire truck on Thursday night. Collisions like these are only part of the reason for the blog we published on August 11, 2023 on our website. The facts are that shortly after 10 p.m., the driverless Cruise car, which had a green light, entered the intersection at Polk and Turk streets in the Tenderloin, the company wrote in a tweet Friday morning, and was hit by a fire truck that was en route to an emergency. Cruise said the intersection has buildings that block the view, making it difficult for the robotaxis — as well as human drivers — to track vehicles coming around the corner until they are at the intersection. The Cruise car had difficulty “charting” the path of the emergency vehicle, too, because the fire truck was traveling “in the oncoming lane of traffic, which it had moved into to bypass the red light,” the company said.
The passenger was treated on the scene and transported via ambulance to a hospital. Cruise said the injuries were “non-severe.” Cruise added that the passenger was on the scene walking around and talking to emergency responders before being taken to the hospital. The same night, a Cruise car collided with another vehicle at 26th and Mission streets. Cruise said another driverless car, which had no passengers, entered the intersection on a green light when another car ran a red light at high speed. The driverless car detected the other car and braked, according to Cruise, but the two cars still collided. The driver of the other car was treated and released at the scene, and a police report has been filed, Cruise said.
The collisions came a day after city officials asked state regulators to halt their approval of driverless companies’ unrestricted commercial expansion in the city while citing concerns over how the behavior of robotaxis’ could impact emergency responders as it has already done. San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has been vocal about his concern regarding autonomous vehicles, said that the collision was not surprising and the Fire Department is investigating. “There was an accident waiting to happen,” he said. “It was just a matter of time.” He added that he thought Cruise’s public response was “highly inadequate,” as the company only expressed concern for its own passenger and made no mention of the emergency that fire truck was on its way to or other cars or pedestrians that may have been near the crash.
Supervisor Peskin went on to say “They should be expressing concern for San Francisco, San Franciscans and the passenger,” he said. “They are using our streets for their testing ground, you would hope they show a little more respect for our city.” Regarding the collision in the Mission, he said that Cruise could release video showing what happened to clear up any public confusion, but that the company has not indicated it would do so. A Cruise spokesperson refused to answer questions about whether video in either incident would be released.
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