GM’s autonomous driving subsidiary, Cruise, began offering customers free rides in its Chevy Bolt EV-based autonomous vehicles late last year and received a permit to begin charging these passengers for its services in early 2023. Since then, Cruise AVs have clocked more than 250,000 driverless miles on the streets of San Francisco, but the going hasn’t been without a few mishaps, including an accident with injuries and reports of the vehicles stopping in traffic. Now, Cruise AVs reportedly blocked traffic in San Francisco once again.
According to SFGate, several Cruise AVs roadblocked traffic on Monday, September 26th, 2022. Two vehicles were captured on video sitting in a bus lane, preventing the flow of traffic near the intersection of Sacramento and Leavenworth streets. Their hazards were flashing, while a Muni bus was unable to pass them, stopped further back.
In a separate incident, another Cruise autonomous vehicle stopped in a Muni bus lane, almost causing a collision, which the bus driver was able to avoid. The Bolt EV, meanwhile, simply stopped with its hazard lights on, playing music through its radio, but with no passengers present.
Cruise spokesperson Drew Pusateri explained that the three AVs halted due to a “technical issue,” which could mean that the vehicle encountered a situation in which it could not safely proceed and instead came to a halt and activated its hazard lights. A team from Cruise was dispatched to each incident, arriving within 20 minutes to clear its AVs away from the scene.
“Safety is the guiding principle of everything we do,” Pusateri said. “That means if our cars encounter a situation where they aren’t able to safely proceed, they stop and turn on their hazard lights, and we either get them operating again or pick them up as quickly as possible. This could be because of a mechanical issue like a flat tire, a road condition, or a technical problem. We’re working to minimize how often this happens, and apologize to anyone impacted.”
No injuries or collisions were reported in the aforementioned incidents, although it seems to indicate that more development might be needed in order to safely deploy these autonomous vehicles. However, a recent study suggests that “true”, fully-fledged autonomy may never be achieved, and that AVs like those in Cruise’s fleet will need human supervision in order to function.