An autonomous prototype owned by GM subsidiary Cruise has had yet another embarrassing run-in with an emergency vehicle in San Francisco.
According to WIRED, the San Francisco Fire Department was attempting to respond to an emergency at around 4 a.m. when it happened upon a double-parked garbage truck. The fire truck attempted to go into the oncoming lane to pass the garbage truck when it happened a driverless Chevy Bolt EV that was sitting stationary in the lane. While a human driver would have had the wherewithal to clear the lane for the emergency vehicle, the autonomous vehicle allegedly stayed put, blocking the firetruck until the garbage truck driver ran out from their workplace to move their vehicle.
“This incident slowed SFFD response to a fire that resulted in property damage and personal injuries,” city officials wrote in a California Public Utilities Commission filing that was viewed by WIRED.
This mishap, which occurred sometime in April, is the second widely publicized encounter between a Cruise prototype and an emergency vehicle that we’ve seen in recent months. A couple of months ago, a viral video showed the San Francisco Police Department attempting to pull over an unmanned Cruise prototype when the vehicle decided to take off from the officer and drive through an intersection. In a prepared statement issued in response to that clip, Cruise said it works closely with local authorities to ensure its vehicles are adhering to local laws.
“Our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended,” the company said at the time. “An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued.”
“We work closely with the SFPD on how to interact with our vehicles, including a dedicated phone number for them to call in situations like this,” the company added.
A spokesperson for Cruise confirmed the incident involving the fire truck in a statement sent to WIRED, but said the vehicle actually did correctly yield to the oncoming firetruck. Camera and sensor data pulled from the vehicle indicated the fire truck was able to proceed past the blocked section of road after about 25 seconds.
GM plans to apply lessons learned from the development of its Chevy Bolt EV-based test vehicles to the Cruise Origin, a self-driving robotaxi that will enter production at its Factory Zero plant in Michigan in 2023. In the meantime, Cruise will continue to test its Bolt EVs on public roads in San Francisco.