A controversial driverless car firm was blasted after around 10 of its autonomous vehicles broke down and blocked a San Francisco street.
Just a day after securing the green light to flood the streets of the crime-ridden city with even more of its Chevy Bolts, ten of Cruise’s cars suffered WiFi failures which brought a street in the North Beach district to a stand-still.
The firm thinks a nearby music festival may have overloaded telecommunications networks.
A woman who filmed the drama could be heard claiming 10 of the hatchbacks had stopped.
Six were visible in footage she shared online, blocking the intersection of Grant Avenue and Vallejo Street, KRON reported.
A controversial driverless car firm is slammed after ten of its vehicles malfunction and blocked a San Francisco street, apparently because their ‘Wi-Fi failed’
A day after securing the green light to enhance the presence of driverless vehicles within San Francisco, the autonomous car company Cruise, encountered a setback that brought traffic to a standstill in the city
Footage captured by onlookers reveals a scene where a fleet of at least six Cruise cars can be seen impeding traffic flow on Friday evening in the North Beach area. Eyewitness on scene reported as many as ten stationary Cruise cars blocking the road
A spokesperson from Cruise attributed the unexpected stoppage to ‘wireless connectivity issues’ stemming from the commencement of Outside Lands, a three-day music festival.
They didn’t explain further, although big events are known to cause network connection problems as telecoms companies buckle under the weight of a sudden spike in local usage.
‘We are actively investigating and working on solutions to prevent this from happening again and apologize to those impacted,’ Cruise said.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed took to Twitter to share her thoughts on autonomous vehicles within the city prior to the setback.
‘Autonomous vehicles are a key part of the future of transportation, not just in San Francisco but in the world,’ she wrote in the tweet.
Adding: ‘As a city that leads on innovation, we are committed to integrating AVs and improving how they can work safely and effectively in our City.’
A Cruise vehicle in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday Feb. 2, 2022
While she remains dedicated to their integration, she acknowledged that certain challenges, like interference with first responders, need to be tackled.
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin expressed his reaction to the incident, raising concerns about the California Public Utilities Commission’s decision to expand the presence of driverless vehicles.
‘Why do state commissioners think it’s OK to put people in danger + create traffic chaos on our neighborhoods streets? We warned them + they refused to listen,’ Peskin tweeted.
The San Francisco Fire Department also voiced its strong disagreement with the expansion, pointing out the potential dangers and disruptions caused by the vehicles on local streets.
‘The Fire Department strongly disagrees with yesterday’s CPUC decision to allow commercial operations by the autonomous vehicle companies in San Francisco,’ Captain Jonathan Baxter said in a statement.
‘We believe the ruling ignores public safety and emergency response interference that we presented to the Commission this week,’ he added.
Cruise, which is a driverless robot taxi, is seen during operation in San Francisco, California, USA on July 24, 2023.
‘The decision permits industry expansion without solving any of the underlying problems. We do not believe the industry has any incentive to remain at the table and solve their problems.’
He claimed that dangerous incidents will not stop or go away – but they are in fact increasing.
The Fire Department announced their continued support and cooperation with City partners and the industry, ‘if they remain willing to improve the safety of the streets and community by improving the robotaxis ability to drive safely.’
The department made clear that while they are not the introduction of new technology in the city, they will always prioritize the safety of their citizens.
‘The San Francisco Fire Department is not against modernization and new technologies but, any vehicle that endangers the people of the City and its visitors in danger and would put its passengers between a fire engine and a fire is not ready for prime time,’ the statement concluded.
The incident underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the safe integration of autonomous vehicles into urban environments, prompting local officials and organizations to reassess the implications of their increased production and use.
In June, the self-driving car company Cruise came under scrutiny again for an issue caused by their autonomous vehicles.
Cruise faced criticism after one of its vehicles appeared to get in the way of first responders in San Francisco’s Mission District Friday night.
The autonomous vehicles unexpectedly halted in the middle of the road, obstructing the passage of other vehicles, in the video that was sent to KRON4
The video showed a self-driving car stopping in the middle of the road near 24th and Folsom streets, block the road to the scene of a mass shooting nearby.
The shooting in the city’s Mission District on Friday night left nine people wounded in an attack that law enforcement officials have referred to as ‘targeted’ in what is the latest sorry incident in the crime-ridden city.
In early August, a journalist said a ride in a driverless car named ‘Peaches’ turned into a dystopian nightmare after the vehicle gained speed and refused to let him out.
Associated Press tech reporter Michael Liedtke had been picked up by the driverless Chevrolet Bolt, called Peaches, outside of a San Francisco bar last September.
Liedtke said the half-hour journey, operated by company Cruise, was going smoothly until a ‘twist’ made him worry the experience would be something that he’d regret.
In a report, Liedtke said that as he approached his destination Peaches began accelerating and driving away in the opposite direction.
After frantically calling the Cruise support center, they informed him that Peaches had become confused and after the car took him back to the destination, it did the same thing.
San Francisco police responded to a shooting in the Mission District on Friday where nine people were shot in what authorities believe was a targeted shooting
Associated Press tech reporter Michael Liedtke is pictured here inside Peaches last September
The empty driver’s seat is shown in a driverless Chevy Bolt car named Peaches carrying Associated Press reporter Michael Liedtke
As of this week, California Public Utilities Commission declared that robotaxis can operate in San Francisco 24/7, including self-driving car companies Waymo and Cruise.
Waymo operates a fleet of electric Jaguar EVs which are also a common sight on the tech capital’s streets.
Previously, autonomous vehicles were only allowed to operate in the city during nighttime hours, between 10pm and 6am, without a safety permit.
Earlier this week, an NBC report revealed that driverless car companies have been seeking expansion in San Francisco despite worries the tech lacks safety guard rails
San Francisco is the ‘fiercest battle grounds in the debate over autonomous vehicles, and whether they can safely coexist on streets,’ the article writes.
Across the state of California, at least 41 companies currently operate more than 2,000 autonomous vehicles in California.
And while most have test drivers inside, who are able to override the cars when needed, hundreds of vehicles on the road right now have no one behind the wheel.
Some are calling the companies out and claiming it’s time to hit the brakes on the emerging technology.