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San Francisco city officials have sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requesting that the expansion of Cruise and Waymo’s robotaxi services in the city be delayed or cancelled. NBC News Reported. An official with the San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFTA) wrote that unlimited expansion was “unreasonable” in light of recent safety concerns with vehicles blocking traffic and impeding emergency vehicles.
Alphabet’s Waymo and GM-owned Cruise both operate fully driverless services (no backup drivers) in the city. Last June he obtained permission for Cruise to charge rides between 10pm and 6am in designated areas of the city. Waymo is licensed to ride self-driving cars, but is waiting for another permit before charging.
“Rather than unlimited approval, a series of limited deployments with incremental expansion offers the best path forward for public confidence in driving automation and industry success in San Francisco and beyond. ’” the letter said.
Service was a challenge. A small fleet of San Francisco’s cruise robo-taxis suddenly stopped operating on the streets of the city’s Fillmore neighborhood, blocking traffic for several hours. Another cruise car was stopped by confused officers and quickly fled. The NTSA recently launched an investigation into Cruise’s self-driving cars for issues such as sudden braking and road closures.
In one as-yet-unreported incident, a cruise vehicle also reportedly disturbed emergency responders. According to the letter, a firefighter had to break the window of one of his robo-taxis to keep it from running over the fire hoses.
However, Cruise points out that so far the service is secure. “Cruise has a publicly reported safety record, driving millions of miles in highly complex urban environments with zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities,” a spokeswoman said. NBC News.
The letter may have been prompted by Cruise’s announcement that it plans to run its robo-taxis service 24 hours a day instead of at night.it’s been Approved By the California DMV, pending approval from the CPUC. (Both companies operate driverless ride services in Phoenix, and Cruise’s self-driving taxis Austin, Texas likewise. )
The SFTA is not against 24/7 expansion, but is requesting more data, such as how often and for how long Cruise vehicles block traffic. It also wants robo-taxis to move off major routes during rush hours until they prove they can operate “without significant disruption to road operations and transport services.”
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