A San Francisco Fire Department truck responding to a fire tried to pass a double-parked garbage truck by using the opposing lane. The Cruise without anyone inside was blocking its path. The Cruise car stayed put even though a human might have reversed to clear the lane. The garbage truck driver ran from their job to move their vehicle as the fire truck passed by.
This incident slowed the response to a fire that resulted in property damage and personal injuries, according to the city. The fire department is concerned that Cruise vehicles stop too often in travel lanes, which could have a negative impact on response times.
The most unnerving of a handful of incidents involving Cruise vehicles alleged by the city of San Francisco as officials object to parts of a proposed permit program being crafted by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Tiffany Testo is a spokeswoman for Cruise. The company's remote assistance workers are able to operate vehicles in trouble from afar, and she said the car had contacted them after yielding to the oncoming fire truck. According to Cruise, the fire truck was able to move forward 25 seconds after it first encountered the robot. In a statement, Testo says that Cruise works closely with first responders, including SFFD, and have been in contact with them regarding this encounter.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates the city's streets, did not respond to requests for comment.
As software advances, it will run into these flukes.
Cruise is one of the dueling self-driving car developers that say they are working to build a safer driving future. The steep, winding roads of the city make it easy to see the Jaguar I-, which is owned by Amazon. Cruise is applying for a permit that would allow it to launch the state's first self-driving service. Many city dwellers could be affected by the science experiment.
In late April, a Cruise vehicle traveling through a work zone stopped in a crosswalk and didn't move for five minutes, blocking traffic, and in April, police officers stopped a Cruise vehicle on camera.
The state agency is writing rules that would allow Cruise to move ahead with its plans to operate limited but paid ride-hail services across the state. Cruise's existing program would be expanded by a new permit in San Francisco. It currently allows hand-picked members of the public to take rides between 11 pm and 5 am, and only on the city's west side, which is less busy. If the company gets a new permit, it could start to collect fares for the rides at night and in the early morning, and not in rain or fog. It would be the launch of the state's first ride-hail service.