San Francisco officers have referred to as for a slower, extra thought-about enlargement of using autonomous autos, which have blocked visitors and hampered emergency companies
31 January 2023
Officials in San Francisco have requested for a halt to the enlargement of driverless automobile exams throughout the town after a sequence of incidents which have hampered the work of emergency companies.
San Francisco’s place on the coronary heart of Silicon Valley and its wealth of expertise expertise has made it a hotbed for the driverless automobile trade. Both Waymo, owned by Google’s dad or mum firm Alphabet, and Cruise, owned by General Motors, function experimental robotic taxi companies within the metropolis. But they haven’t been with out issues.
New Scientist has beforehand reported how autonomous autos (AV) from Cruise, for instance, have randomly stopped and blocked visitors and had a run-in with police. But particulars of different incidents with driverless vehicles have now emerged in letters from metropolis officers.
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) has written to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) saying that managers within the City’s Department of Emergency Management started to note various 911 calls final yr from individuals who had seen such vehicles cease with out cause and block visitors, in addition to “erratic driving”, reminiscent of indicating in a single path and shifting within the different.
These surprising stops on busy streets vary from minutes to hours, says one of many letters, giving an instance of a Cruise automobile that reportedly stopped and blocked a San Francisco Fire Department automobile on its solution to a hearth. In one other incident, a Cruise automobile entered an space the place firefighters have been working and practically ran over their hoses – it solely stopped when firefighters shattered the entrance window of the automobile.
Both Cruise and Waymo at the moment function small fleets between the hours of 10pm and 6am in a confined space of San Francisco, however every has utilized for permission to unfold additional throughout the town and function extra vehicles 24 hours a day.
The SFCTA has now written separate letters to the CPUC about each Cruise’s and Waymo’s enlargement plans and referred to as for “restraint… somewhat than fast enlargement”.
“Cruise AVs have made unplanned and surprising stops in journey lanes the place they impede visitors and transit service, and intruding into energetic emergency response scenes,” says the letter about Cruise. “If the Commission approves sweeping authorizations for each Waymo and Cruise, the hazards and community impacts… might quickly have an effect on a big proportion of all San Francisco vacationers.”
Neither Cruise nor Waymo responded to a request for remark by New Scientist. However, in a press release, Cruise has emphasised that its security report “consists of having pushed thousands and thousands of miles in a particularly advanced city setting with zero life-threatening accidents or fatalities”. A Waymo spokesperson has stated that the letters aere “an ordinary a part of the regulatory course of” and the corporate would proceed its “wholesome dialogue” with metropolis officers.
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