In less than twenty-four hours after an incident where an autonomous taxi under Cruise’s purview collided with a fire truck at a crossroads in San Francisco, the said company, Cruise, acceded on the day of the week known as Friday to a formal request issued by state regulators. The entreaty pertained to a reduction by fifty percent in the count of vehicles that were in operation within the bounds of the city.
This setback incurred by the self-driving automobile establishment transpired a mere seven days following the affirmative decision taken by the California Public Utilities Commission to extend the operation of self-driving taxi services not only by Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors but also by its rival entity, Waymo, owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
On the particular day designated as Friday, the department responsible for regulating motor vehicles in California, known as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which also holds authority over the safety of autonomous cars, made a formal request for Cruise to enact a reduction by fifty percent in the fleet of vehicles it was operating in the city of San Francisco. This appeal stemmed from a recent incident wherein a vehicle under Cruise’s supervision collided with a fire truck, resulting in injury to an occupant within the autonomous vehicle. Earlier during the same week, another of Cruise’s vehicles found itself immobilized within newly laid concrete on a different thoroughfare within the city.
A spokesperson by the name of Drew Pusateri, acting on behalf of Cruise, articulated in a communiqué on the day of the week known as Saturday, that when juxtaposed against the present-day occurrences of injuries and fatalities on the roadways, Cruise’s operations possessed a positive influence on overall road safety. Additionally, Pusateri stated that the company remained willing to provide any requisite data to state officials to reinforce the safety and efficiency of their fleet.
At present, Cruise boasts a fleet of four hundred vehicles in operation within San Francisco. However, in compliance with the newly issued regulatory demand, the company shall maintain a maximum of fifty self-driving cars operational during daytime hours, with the count increasing to one hundred fifty during nocturnal intervals.
A short while ago, approximately ten vehicles under the Cruise banner experienced operational disruptions, rendering them stationary on a bustling street in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, thereby impeding traffic for fifteen minutes. In a preceding statement, Pusateri attributed these occurrences to communication difficulties experienced by the vehicles in connecting to Cruise personnel who could have potentially directed them out of the obstructive position. This connectivity dilemma emerged due to a surge in cellular network usage resulting from a concurrent music festival in Golden Gate Park, situated approximately four miles distant from the aforementioned incident site.
Near the mentioned park, several other autonomous vehicles belonging to Cruise similarly found themselves immobilized on city streets.
A week before the present circumstances, the California Public Utilities Commission granted both Cruise and Waymo authorization to levy charges for their respective rides, available around the clock across all zones within San Francisco. Both the California Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles constitute the two principal regulatory bodies governing the operations of self-driving vehicles within the state. A company is obliged to secure a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles before submitting applications for deployment permits for autonomous vehicles, akin to the permissions received by Cruise and Waymo in the preceding week, as issued by the utility commission.
In response to recent and disconcerting incidents involving Cruise’s vehicles within San Francisco, the authority overseeing motor vehicles issued a formal statement indicating an ongoing investigation. The authority recommended Cruise effectuate a reduction in its operational fleet within the city while the investigation remained pending, with corrective actions geared towards enhancing road safety. The statement made it explicitly clear that pending the investigation’s findings, the authority retained the prerogative to suspend or revoke testing and deployment permits if a deemed unreasonable risk to public safety was established.
San Francisco’s administrative officials have been raising complaints since January about the interference posed by autonomous vehicles on the operations of emergency vehicles. Before the present juncture, fifty-five separate instances were documented where autonomous cars abruptly halted or disrupted the passage of emergency vehicles. This included a specific instance involving firefighters who were battling a residential fire.
Midweek, city administrators initiated a legal action through an injunction urging the California Public Utilities Commission to temporarily suspend the expansion of autonomous taxi services. As of now, neither of the two companies has provided detailed plans regarding the augmentation of their respective self-driving taxi services.