The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has initiated an investigation into recent incidents involving Robotaxi autonomous vehicles operated by General Motors’ subsidiary Cruise in San Francisco. This move comes after a Cruise robotaxi was involved in a collision with an emergency vehicle, marking the latest in a series of accidents involving self-driving cars. As a result, the DMV has requested that Cruise temporarily remove 50% of its active fleet from the roads while the investigation is underway, a reduction that Cruise has agreed to.
Cruise reported that the collision occurred when one of its autonomous vehicles proceeded through an intersection with a green light. Unfortunately, the vehicle was struck by an emergency vehicle with its red lights and siren activated. Although the autonomous car identified the collision risk and initiated a braking maneuver, it was unable to entirely avoid the crash. The incident resulted in injuries to the sole passenger in the self-driving vehicle, who was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The San Francisco Police Department’s preliminary findings revealed that the collision happened while the fire truck was responding to an emergency, its forward-facing red lights and siren in operation.
In a broader context, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently voted in favor of permitting robotaxis from Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo to operate around the clock throughout San Francisco, while also allowing them to charge passengers for rides. This decision was met with opposition from residents and city agencies. City Attorney David Chiu expressed concerns about the readiness of this technology, citing instances where autonomous vehicle performance has hindered the operations of first responders. He has called for a re-evaluation of the decision and highlighted potential negative consequences for the city due to the expansion of autonomous vehicles.
The investigation into Cruise’s robotaxi incidents underscores the ongoing challenges and safety concerns associated with autonomous vehicle technology, prompting regulatory bodies and industry players to navigate a delicate balance between innovation and ensuring public safety.