Driverless Vehicles Are Still Having Problems in San Francisco

Driverless Vehicle Continue To Obstruct Traffic In San Francisco.
Driverless Vehicles Are Still Having Problems in San Francisco
A Cruise self-driving car, which is owned by General Motors Corp., is seen outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco where it does most of its testing, in California, on Sept. 26, 2018. (Heather Somerville/File Photo/Reuters)
Bryan Jung

Driverless cars in San Francisco are still causing traffic jams, even after they were approved by the state.

San Francisco residents were again caught off guard this weekend after General Motors’ Cruise automated cars continued to block roads while navigating, according to social media posts and local media.

This comes only a few days after California regulators approved self-driving taxi companies to deploy their driverless cars throughout the city.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates self-driving cars in the state, voted three-to-one in favor to permit Waymo and Cruise to operate their vehicles full-time, despite warnings from safety advocates and first responders.

The decision allows people in San Francisco to pay for a ride in a driverless taxi, in an attempt to supplant human cab drivers and ride share services with automated competition.

Incidents Expand

Cruise spokesman Drew Pusateri told CNN that the arrival of its 24-hour driverless car service was a “historic industry milestone,” putting its cars “in a position to compete with traditional ridehail, and challenge an unsafe, inaccessible transportation status quo.”

However, several video posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, showed at least 10 Cruise vehicles failing to blink their hazard lights in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood during a music festival.

According to CNN, one poster described the traffic incident in a tweet, as a “complete meltdown.”

Other eyewitnesses told CBS News affiliate KPIX-TV that driverless cars had blocked intersections on the evening of Aug. 11 for about 15 minutes.

Authorities were concerned that driverless cars would impede emergency vehicles from accessing the area.

The incident came one day after the CPUC voted for their approval, despite dissent from local officials.

Cruise responded to critics by explaining that the music festival “posed wireless bandwidth constraints causing delayed connectivity to our vehicles.” The GM affiliate promised that it was “actively investigating and working on solutions to prevent this from happening again,“ and that they ”apologize to those who were impacted.”

Attempts to Restrict Automated Cars

The San Francisco Police Officers Association, San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, and the San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798, had all written to the CPUC, warning that driverless vehicles could hinder emergency responders or cause additional accidents.

“The time that it takes for an officer or any other public safety employee to try and interact with an autonomous vehicle is frustrating in the best-case scenario, but when they can not comprehend our demands to move to the side of the roadway and are stopped in the middle of the roadway blocking emergency response units, then it rises to another level of danger,” wrote Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, in June and added, “That is unacceptable.”

The San Francisco Fire Department also complained after recording 55 incidents involving driverless vehicles interfering with emergency response teams so far this year, reported CNN.

“They’re deploying hundreds of cars on our streets. They should take a timeout and a pause, until they perfect this technology,” Aaron Peskin, president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and a representative for North Beach on the board, told KPIX-TV.

Cruise recently posted on X that its driverless vehicles had surpassed 4 million miles.

The auto company has now racked up a million driverless miles per month in the Bay Area.

Mr. Peskin told the Los Angeles Times that he was concerned that a serious emergency could occur if this happens again, describing the houses on “North Beach as being made of sticks.”

The board supervisor added that he would pursue “every means” to have the state regulator’s decision reversed and possibly seek a court injunction.

The Epoch Times has contacted Cruise for comment.

Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.
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