General Motors’ self-driving subsidiary Cruise has been in the news for the wrong reasons lately, as its robotaxi units have been creating roadblocks at inconvenient times. With these types of incidents in mind, the San Francisco Fire Chief is claiming that her city is not ready for a large-scale rollout of the self-driving service.
According to a report from The Detroit News, city officials around California are worried that robotaxi services such as Cruise and Waymo are expanding too quickly, and that local governments are unprepared to handle potential issues related to Cruise AV incidents. This comes as state regulators are preparing to grant Cruise a request to massively expand its service.
“They’re not ready for prime time,” San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson was quoted as saying. “I’m not against the technology. I understand it’s important and it’s the way the industry is going. But we need to fix what’s not working right now, before they are unleashed on the rest of the city. We have 160,000 calls a year. We don’t have the time to personally take care of a car that’s in the way when we’re on the way to an emergency.”
Notably, there is precedent to Nicholson’s worries. Back in May 2022, GM Authority reported that a Cruise AV unit was allegedly found blocking a firetruck that was attempting to respond to an emergency situation.
In response, a Cruise spokesperson stated that Cruise is “proud of our publicly reported safety record which includes driving millions of miles in an extremely complex urban environment. Interacting properly with emergency personnel is important to us, which is why we maintain an open line of communication with first responders to receive feedback and discuss specific incidents to improve our response.”
It’s worth noting that state regulators track robotaxi collisions, but not traffic flow issues like street blockages or interfering with firefighters and police officers.