In August, 60 autonomous vehicles operated by GM’s Autonomous Cruise stuck in traffic all over San Francisco. Over a month later, the problem persists and is really starting to piss people off.
Cruise vehicles blocked a bus lane and stalled traffic at the busy Sacramento and Leavenworth intersection in upscale Nob Hill. Around the same time and a few blocks away, a cruiser was also blocking Sacramento Street near Mason Street. Another blocked an intersection in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood. A video shared on Reddit shows residents a bit disturbed by the not-so-uncommon heist. Of SFGate:
“Come on, we gotta get moving,” a person could be heard shouting in the background of the video.
“There is no driver!” another replied.
Another cruise car caused a similar disturbance near the corner of Geary Boulevard and Franklin Street the same evening around 10:19 p.m. by KRON4. The self-driving vehicle reportedly veered into a bus lane and came to a stop inches from a Muni bus, forcing the driver to reorient and maneuver around it. The outlet reported that another cruiser had stopped in the middle of the road at Sacramento and Mason streets, with its lights flashing and the music playing from the radio.
No accidents or injuries were reported. A spokesperson for Cruise told the SFGate that the disabled vehicles were recovered after a 20-minute interruption due to a technical problem. However, just because there haven’t been any crashes due to broken down vehicles (yet) doesn’t mean that driverless cars stopping dead in city traffic are safe. In May, stranded driverless cruisers held up a fire rescue vehicle responding to a fire, Wired reports.
It took nearly half a minute for Cruise operators to remotely move the vehicle out of the way of the fire truck. The slowdown contributed to property loss and injuries from the fire. These vehicles roam the streets without any training provided to first responders on what they can do in such situations, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Fire Department said. Wired.
San Francisco has become something of an unofficial proving ground for self-driving vehicles. Waymo, an Alphabet company, and Amazon’s Zoox have a presence in the city, and Tesla is recreating the city using the Unreal Engine to better train its so-called “fully self-driving mode,” according to Electrek. San Francisco has billed itself as a tech hub, but conducting a citywide experiment is not without its risks. A cruiser hit a Toyota Prius in June, and in May, a whistleblower has come forward to the wall street journal which raised concerns about the company’s dedication to safety.
California has allowed passengers to travel without a driver vehicles since June. Cruise vehicles are operated using beta testers in a small part of town and are only available at certain times of the day and in perfect weather conditions.