Cruise Explains Driverless Robotaxi Traffic Fiasco in San Francisco

Cruise Explains Driverless Robotaxi Traffic Fiasco in San Francisco

The evening of Aug. 11, as many as 10 Cruise driverless robotaxis stopped in San Francisco’s North Beach. The incident caused traffic to back up, and it left skeptics questioning the city’s recent decision to allow driverless robotaxis to operate 24/7. 

Social media posts about the incident depicted multiple Cruise robotaxis stopped in the middle of Grant Avenue. The robotaxis had their hazards engaged, and they were blocking other vehicles from moving. 

Responding to the incident, Cruise said the issue was the result of “wireless connectivity issues,” which immobilized the driverless robotaxis. San Francisco police confirmed the cell connectivity issues experienced by the robotaxis were caused by the large number of people at the Outside Lands music festival.

Cruise said it was investigating the incident. The company also apologized to those who were affected. “We are actively investigating and working on solutions to prevent this from happening again and apologize to those impacted,” Cruise said in a statement. 

Based on a text message exchange between San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin and a Cruise government affairs manager, reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the cellular connection issues impacted the company’s capability to remotely redirect the robotaxis. Peskin reportedly said about 10 cars came to a halt at the intersection.

As part of Cruise’s efforts to avoid the same incident from happening in the future, Peskin said the robotaxi operator is considering the creation of its own cell phone network just for its San Francisco operations, as Cruise will likely be ramping its operations in the city in the near future. 

The incident happened just a day after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to lift all restrictions for Cruise and Waymo’s full commercialization in San Francisco.

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