Driverless taxis, which recently got the green light for unrestricted commercial expansion in San Francisco, have hit a bump in the road. The city is asking regulators to slow down robotaxi service or stop it altogether.
The city attorney’s office is asking the California Public Utilities Commission to temporarily suspend its approval of unrestricted commerical expansion for Cruise and Waymo.
The main issue is the confusion and congestion that some robotaxis have caused on city streets. Video footage from Mission Local earlier this week shows a driverless taxi briefly stop in the middle of an intersection on Mission Street before driving into a construction zone and then pulling over to the wrong side of the road.
Over the weekend, a slew of Cruise cars blocked traffic in North Beach. The company initially blamed it on a connectivity issue but now says a pedestrian intentionally interfered with a car, which created a chain reaction.
The CPUC last week essentially gave autonomous vehicles more autonomy on the roads and gave the green light for companies like Cruise and Waymo to charge for these rides 24/7.
NBC Bay Area senior investigative reporter Bigad Shaban has been covering the debate around autonomous taxis. He says the companies are the first to admit the technology is not perfect.
“They do however say that once one car in their fleet learns something, their entire fleet learns it at the same time, and they say the only way you’re going to see this technology improve is by having these vehicles on the road,” Shaban said.
San Francisco also reportedly plans to argue the environmental impact robotaxis would have on the city.
To date, no Cruise or Waymo vehicles have been responsible for a severe traffic injury or death.
Source: NBC Bay Area