Just days ago, the California Public Utilities Commission (DMV) gave the green light to Waymo and Cruise companies to run their first self-driving taxis, or robotaxis, in San Francisco 24 hours a day.
However, it took a short time for them to become sad protagonists due to the incidents they have caused in the Californian city, to the point of being almost a focus of tourist interest and for residents. Social networks do not stop showing incidents of these vehicles: the last one has had its consequences, when a robotaxi collided with a fire truck, leaving the occupant traveling inside unharmed.
Cruise, owner of the vehicle in question, stated that it had detected the truck, but that it did not have time to brake to avoid the impact. Earlier, days after the approval of these 24/7 vehicles, they were in the news again: first, when 10 of these robotaxis stopped on a city street and caused traffic to collapse for several minutes; then, when one of them got stuck in fresh cement.
It must be clarified that these robotaxis have been in operation for years, of course not in these circumstances. San Francisco launched a week ago by approving that these robotaxis can operate 24/7, granting those permissions to Cruise and Waymo. Previously, they had been operating with drivers on board and later in very specific services and spaces (especially at night), without charging their customers.
The latest DMV approval allowed these Chevrolet Bolt EVs, with Level 4 autonomous driving technology, to operate around the clock and charge San Francisco residents and tourists for their services.
Incidents were inevitable during the early days of this technology; incidents, however, have not escaped criticism from the most skeptical. The San Francisco fire chief himself criticized this technology, telling how he could see that these robotaxis blocked some streets or came dangerously close in emergencies.
This technology is expected to reach other North American cities shortly: Miami, Austin, Phoenix, Los Angeles … are already on Cruise and Waymo’s radar. To see them in Europe we will have to wait much longer.
For the moment, by order of the Californian DMV, Cruise has had to limit his robotaxis in San Francisco to half, leaving a maximum of 50 of his cars in circulation during the day and 150 at night until the investigation is complete.