Less than a day after a driverless taxi collided with a fire truck at a San Francisco intersection, Cruz on Friday approved a request from state regulators to halve the number of vehicles operating in the city.
The setback for the self-driving car company came just a week after the California Public Utilities Commission voted to allow the expansion of driverless taxi services from Cruise, owned by General Motors, and rival Waymo, owned by Google parent Alphabet. .
On Friday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which regulates the safety of self-driving cars, told Cruise to halve the number of vehicles that were operating in San Francisco. The collision of a Cruise vehicle with a fire engine the day before resulted in the injury of one of the passengers in the self-driving vehicle. Earlier in the week, another Cruise vehicle got stuck in freshly poured concrete on another city street.
Drew Pusateri, a Cruise spokesman, said in a statement Saturday that compared to today’s roadside injuries and deaths, Cruz is “positively impacting public road safety” and that it will provide state officials with “any data they need to enhance the safety and efficiency of our fleet.”
The company, which now has 400 vehicles operating in San Francisco, will have no more than 50 driverless cars operating during the day and 150 at night.
This past weekend, about 10 cruise vehicles stalled in the middle of a busy street in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, blocking traffic for 15 minutes. Mr. Pusateri said in an earlier statement that the cars had difficulty contacting Cruise employees who may have driven them off the road due to high cellular traffic due to a music festival in the city’s Golden Gate Park about four miles away.
Several other cruise vehicles also broke down in the streets near the park.
One week ago, the CPUC allowed the two companies to charge for rides around the clock anywhere in San Francisco. CPUC and DMV are the two agencies that govern self-driving vehicles in California. The company has to obtain clearance from the DMV before applying for driverless deployment permits — the kind Cruise and Waymo obtained last week — from the Utilities Commission.
The Motor Vehicles Authority said in a statement that it was “recently investigating incidents involving Cruise vehicles in San Francisco.” The agency asked Cruise to reduce the number of vehicles operating in San Francisco “until the investigation is complete and Cruise takes appropriate corrective action to improve road safety.”
“The DMV reserves the right, after investigation of the facts, to suspend or revoke authorizations for testing and/or deployment if it is determined that there is an unreasonable risk to public safety,” the agency said in its statement.
San Francisco officials have complained since January that self-driving vehicles are interfering with emergency vehicles. Prior to this week, officials had documented 55 incidents in which a driverless vehicle suddenly stopped or interfered with emergency vehicles, including one with firefighters battling a home fire.
On Wednesday, city officials filed an injunction asking the CPUC to pause its expansion of driverless taxis. Neither company has detailed how they plan to add to driverless taxi services.
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