In August, 60 self-driving vehicles operated by GM’s autonomous Cruise stalled in traffic all over San Francisco. Over a month later and the problem is persisting, and it’s really starting to piss people off.
The Cruise vehicles blocked a bus lane and held up traffic at the busy intersection of Sacramento and Leavenworth in the city’s posh Nob Hill neighborhood. Around the same time and mere blocks away, a Cruise vehicle was also blocking Sacramento Street near Mason Street Another blocked an intersection in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood. A video shared to Reddit shows residents a little perturbed with the not exactly uncommon hold up. From SFGate:
“Come on, we’ve got to get the f— going,” one person could be heard yelling in the background of the video.
“There’s no driver!” another responded.
Another Cruise car caused a similar disruption near the corner of Geary Boulevard and Franklin Street that same evening at approximately 10:19 p.m., per KRON4. The autonomous vehicle reportedly veered into a bus lane and stopped mere inches away from a Muni bus, forcing the driver to reroute and maneuver around it. The outlet reported that yet another Cruise car halted in the middle of the road at Sacramento and Mason streets, with its lights flashing and music piping out from the radio.
No crashes or injuries were reported. A Cruise spokesperson told the SFGate that the stalled vehicles were retrieved after a 20-minute disruption due to a technical issue. However, just because there haven’t been any crashes (yet) due to stalled vehicles doesn’t mean cars without drivers stopping dead in city traffic is safe. In May, stalled driverless Cruise vehicles held up a fire rescue vehicle responding to a fire, Wired reports.
It took operators at Cruise almost half a minute to remotely get the vehicle moving and out of the firetruck’s way. The slow down contributed to loss of property and injuries from the fire. These vehicles are wandering the streets with no training provided to first responders as to what they can do in such situations, a San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson told Wired.
San Francisco has turned into a sort of unofficial testing ground for self-driving vehicles. Waymo, an Alphabet company and Zoox from Amazon have presence in the city, and Tesla is recreating the city using the Unreal Engine in order to better train its so-called “full self-driving mode,” according to Electrek. San Francisco has touted itself as a tech hub, but performing a city-wide experiment is not without its risks. A Cruise vehicle hit a Toyota Prius back in June, and in May, a whistleblower came forward to the Wall Street Journal which raised concerns about the company’s dedication to safety.
California has allowed passengers to ride in driverless vehicles since June. Cruise vehicles are operating using beta testers in a small section of the city and are only available during certain times of day and under perfect weather conditions.