San Francisco Calls For Reevaluation Of Cruise And Waymo Robotaxi Expansion Hearing


San Francisco has officially requested that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) redo a hearing that granted permits for Cruise and Waymo to expand their robotaxi operations throughout the city. The decision to allow these companies to operate 24/7 without any limitations on geographic area, service hours, or fleet size has sparked controversy among city agencies and residents. Concerns have been raised regarding the potential negative impact on public safety, road congestion, and the lack of reporting requirements for robotaxi incidents.

Key Takeaway

San Francisco has formally requested a redo of the hearing that expanded robotaxi permits for Cruise and Waymo. Concerns have been raised about the potential negative impact on public safety and road congestion, as well as the lack of reporting requirements for robotaxi incidents. The city attorney’s office is calling for new reporting requirements and an incremental, performance-based approach to AV expansion to prioritize safety.

Opposition to the Permits

The decision to grant these expanded permits has faced opposition from various stakeholders in San Francisco. City Attorney David Chiu, on behalf of city transit and planning officials, has filed a request for a redo of the hearing and a temporary pause on the expansions. Chiu argues that autonomous vehicles (AVs) are not yet capable of safely operating in San Francisco’s complex transportation environment and that the CPUC has ignored public safety hazards and potential environmental impacts.

Concerns About Public Safety and Reporting

One of the major concerns raised by opponents of the permits is the lack of reporting requirements for robotaxi incidents. Currently, there is no requirement for Cruise or Waymo to report incidents of robotaxis malfunctioning and obstructing traffic, which can disrupt the flow of other road users, public transit, and first responders. San Francisco officials argue that the city’s analysis of these incidents relies solely on reports from the public and affected city employees.

Recent Incidents and Reputational Damage

Cruise’s reputation has been tarnished by recent incidents involving their robotaxis. One incident involved a Cruise vehicle blocking an ambulance, although subsequent investigations cleared Cruise of any fault in hindering the ambulance’s movements. However, the incident highlighted the potential consequences of a robotaxi bricking in a critical situation. Moreover, both Cruise and Waymo vehicles have been involved in collisions, although there have been no fatalities and minimal injuries reported.

Request for New Reporting Requirements

The city attorney’s office is urging the CPUC to adopt new reporting requirements for AV companies and make those reports public without any redactions. The reports should include data on monthly drivered and driverless vehicle miles traveled, street interference incidents, crashes, and high-risk violations. Additionally, the request asks the CPUC to consider an incremental, performance-based approach to AV expansion to ensure the safety of travelers and the general public.

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