Cruise, General Motors’ self-driving car unit, has agreed to reduce the number of vehicles in San Francisco by half following two recent crashes — one involving an emergency vehicle.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles requested on Saturday that Cruise “immediately reduce its active fleet of operating vehicles”. The demand comes just a week after regulators decided to allow Cruise and Waymo, another autonomous vehicle company, to operate as robotaxis in San Francisco at all hours of the day and night.
In a statement, the DMV said they were requesting the reduction remain in place until the Cruise took “appropriate corrective actions to improve road safety.”
Cruise, which has said it will comply with the request, will now have no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day, and 150 at night.
The controversy stems most immediately from two crashes involving Cruise autonomous cars in San Francisco on Thursday.
At around 10 p.m. Thursday night a Cruise vehicle carrying a passenger without a human driver collided with an emergency vehicle as it was responding to a call. According to reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Cruise vehicle drove through a green light into the intersection and was hit by an emergency vehicle responding to a call. Cruise said their car detected the incoming vehicle, but was unable to brake in time.
A different Cruise car, which was not carrying a passenger, was also involved in an accident elsewhere in the city Thursday night.
Tensions around self-driving cars have risen in recent months, in part due to safety concerns regarding autonomous vehicles perceived erratic behavior on the road. In July, a group of activists began placing traffic cones on the hood of Waymo and Cruise robotaxis after realizing the move would disable the vehicles.
A statement by Cruise said the company will “continue to work in partnership with regulators and city departments” on emergency vehicle interactions “to reduce the likelihood of incidents like these happening again.” The statement said that Cruise vehicles have driven more than 3 million miles autonomously in San Francisco, and interacted with emergency vehicles 168,000 times in the past 7 months alone.
The DMV said the fleet reduction will remain until its investigation ends. “The DMV reserves the right, following investigation of the facts, to suspend or revoke testing and/or deployment permits if there is determined to be an unreasonable risk to public safety.”
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