Cruise to reduce fleet of San Francisco Robotaxis by half following crashes

General Motors Cruise Autonomous Vehicle Unit has agreed to reduce its fleet of San Francisco Robotaxis by half, as authorities investigate recent accidents in the city.

The state department for motor vehicles (DMV), after Thursday’s collision between a Cruise without a driver and an emergency vehicle that was not specified, requested the reduction.

The DMV has been investigating recent incidents involving cruise vehicles in San Francisco, the department announced on Saturday. “Cruise agreed to a 50% decrease and will only have 50 driverless cars in operation during daylight hours and 150 at night.”

This development came just over a weeks after California officials allowed Cruise and Google’s spinoff Waymo autonomous robotaxis to operate throughout San Francisco, at any time of the day or night. Despite safety concerns sparked by repeated problems with unexpected stoppages and other erratic behaviors.

San Francisco became the first US major city to have two fleets of driverless cars competing for passengers after the California public utility commission’s decision on August 10, 2018.

The San Francisco Chronicle, based upon tweets by Cruise, reported that the Cruise vehicle was struck Thursday night around 10pm. It had a green signal, entered an intersection and the emergency vehicle responding to the call hit it.

Cruise, a reporter for the newspaper, said that a robotaxi was transporting a passenger who was transported by ambulance to hospital with minor injuries.

The newspaper also reported that on Thursday night in San Francisco a Cruise Car without a passenger was involved in a collision with another vehicle.

San Francisco’s fire department didn’t immediately respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Greg Dieterich said that the robotaxi identified the emergency vehicle almost instantly as soon as it was seen.

Dieterich said that buildings at the intersection obstruct visibility, and objects cannot be seen until they are close to the intersection. He wrote that the Cruise autonomous vehicle detected sirens as soon as they could be distinguished from background noise.

The AV was unable to accurately chart the path of the emergency vehicle because it was in the traffic lane to the right, which the vehicle had entered to avoid the red light.

He wrote that the Cruise vehicle recognized the danger of a collision and braked to reduce its speed but was unable to avoid the crash.

Cruise’s rollout was not without its bumps. Since the company’s driverless ride-hailing services were launched in San Francisco, June 2022, there have been several traffic-related issues. Recently, during the Outside Lands festival, on 11 August, several self-driving vehicles appeared to glitch. This caused mayhem as up to 10 cruise cars blocked a major thoroughfare.

In early June, a cruise vehicle appeared to be idle during a mass shooting. A firefighter had to break a window to stop the vehicle after it nearly ran over hoses being used to extinguish a house fire.

The statement stated that cruise vehicles had driven over 3 million autonomous miles and interacted with emergency vehicles 168,000 times during the first seven month of this year. We know that there will always be challenges, so we are committed to continuous improvement.

Dieterich wrote that the company would work with city departments and regulators to reduce the chances of another crash.

The DMV stated that the fleet reduction would remain in place until Cruise completes its safety investigation and takes the necessary corrective actions. The DMV has the right to suspend or revoke deployment and/or testing permits after an investigation if it is determined that there is an unreasonable risk to the public’s safety.