Two companies race to deploy robotaxis in San Francisco. The city wants them to hit the brakes.


SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco is. Trying to slow the expansion of robotaxis after repeated incidents in . Which driverless cars stop and idle in the middle of streets for no clear reason. Delaying bus riders and disrupting the work of firefighters.

City transportation officials . This week sent letters to California regulators asking them to. Halt or scale back expansion plans for two companies, Cruise and Waymo. Which are competing to offer the first 24-hour robotaxi service. The most known tech hub of the country.


The episode adds another chapter to . The complicated history of self-driving cars, an idea . That technologists have dismissed as a possibility in. The future and has faced various setbacks in the past few years. Waymo offers autonomous . Rides in Phoenix, while Tesla lets some of its owners test “driver help. Features that are the subject of a federal investigation. A self-driving Uber test vehicle struck and killed a woman in 2018.

Some believe that self-driving cars will never happen on a widespread scale. But they are gaining momentum in San Francisco.

Cruise, which is majority-owned by General Motors, got permission . last year to operate 30 cars in parts of San Francisco as robotaxis. Between 10 p.m. and vehicles do not have backup human drivers at 6 a.m. The company has since received . Permission to test driverless cars at any time of the day. But it needs a sign-off from the California Public . Utilities Commission to extend its commercial service hours.

Neither Cruise nor Waymo’s vehicles have killed anyone on . The streets of San Francisco . But the companies have to overcome their sometimes hilarious missteps. Including an episode last year in which a Cruise car with no one inside tried to flee a police officer.

In a recent example documented on social . Media and cited by city officials, five disabled cruise vehicles in . San Francisco’s Mission District blocked a road so . That a city bus with 45 passengers could not pass and was delayed for at least 13 minutes. Cruise’s autonomous cars have also interfered with active firefighting, and firefighters . Once smashed a vehicle’s window to prevent it from driving over their firehose. The city said.
San Francisco officials have said . They want to continue testing and even allow Cruise and Waymo to expand, but only if they do so and with conditions.

“A series of limited deployments with incremental expansion — rather than unlimited approvals . Provides the best path to driving automation and public confidence in . The industry’s success in San Francisco and beyond. Three city officials wrote in a letter Thursday to the Utilities Commission. The state agency that decides which companies. Whether Robotaxi gets a license. A second letter raised concerns about Waymo

San Francisco doesn’t want robotaxis operating downtown, for example. Or during peak morning and evening commute times. And it wants more data on how vehicles perform.

Last month, the National Highway . Traffic Safety Administration said it was investigating similar problems with blocked traffic.

Cruz has argued that his service is safer than stability.
“Cruise’s safety record is reported and includes millions of miles driven in . A complex urban environment with zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities. Cruise spokesman Drew Pusateri said in a statement Friday.

He also provided letters of support for . Cruz written by local San Francisco merchants associations, disability advocates and community groups.

San Francisco is failing to make progress on its “Vision Zero” goal by 2024. Last year, the city had 37 traffic accidents, an increase from 31 deaths in 2014 when it adopted the target.

City officials argue that robotaxis are a hazard that could cause human drivers to react .

“They can cause other vehicles to . Make dangerous sudden lane changes, brake or speed up, or move into bike lanes or crosswalks. They can cause rear-end collisions,” they wrote in their letter to the state regulator.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete . Buttigieg called the national increase in auto deaths a crisis and. Supported the move toward autonomous vehicles.

“, it’s going to be hard to do worse. Than human drivers when it comes to what we can get with . The right kind of safe autonomous driving,” he told Quartz last year.

Waymo, which shares a parent company with Google. Has tested its technology in . San Francisco but has not offered paid rides to members of the city’s public without a safety driver. As resu

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