San Francisco officials consider action against CPUC's decision for 24/7 robotaxi rides

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
SF officials consider action against CPUC's robotaxi decision
San Francisco officials are considering action against CPUC's decision for allowing Waymo and Cruise to offer 24/7 paid rides.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco may be taking new action to address concerns over Cruise and Waymo robotaxis.

This comes just days after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) gave them the green light to start charging for rides 24/7.

A bizarre futuristic scene on Friday night, raising new concerns about robotaxis in San Francisco.

Ten cruise cars stopped together, blocking traffic in North Beach for around 20 minutes.

RELATED: Historic weekend as driverless cars navigate through streets of San Francisco

In a social media post, Cruise blamed Outside Lands for disrupting its wireless bandwidth connectivity.

"What this says to me is when cell phones fail, if there's a power outage or if there's a natural disaster like we just saw in Lahaina that these cars could congest our streets at the precise time when we would be needing to deploy emergency apparatus," Aaron Peskin, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said.

Days after robotaxi expansion was approved by the CPUC, Supervisor Peskin now taking action against that decision.

"The City of San Francisco will be petitioning the California Public Utilities Commission asking them for reconsideration, potentially if need be, taking this to a court of competent jurisdiction, appealing to the Department of Motor Vehicles," he said. "We're not trying to put the genie back in the bottle, but we are standing up for public safety."

EXCLUSIVE: Video shows Cruise driverless car stalled on SF street for hours

Video taken by a San Francisco resident shows a Cruise driverless car stalled on a San Francisco street for hours, just near a freeway exit.

Robotaxi interference with first responders was one of the primary concerns raised ahead of the expansion vote, with San Francisco firefighters reporting more than 50 such incidents.

CPUC Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma acknowledged those concerns during the hearing.

She was the lone no vote against expansion and called for Cruise and Waymo to better train first responders.

"What additional training will be provided to our essential first responders so that they will know how to communicate with these driverless autonomous vehicles?" Shiroma said during Thursday's hearing.

RELATED: Waymo, Cruise now open to public in SF: Here's how to take a ride

The San Francisco Fire Department says they are "not against modernization and new technologies but, any vehicle that endangers the people of the city and its visitors and would put its passengers between a fire engine and a fire is not ready for prime time."

Cruise did not respond for comment on Monday.

Peskin says, he does think these kinks can be worked out.

"We want to work with them to smooth out the rough edges but it's not going to be their way or, pun-intended, the highway," Peskin said.

VIDEO: Journalist documents wild ride inside Waymo self-driving car in SF

ABC7 News reporter Lyanne Melendez tried out one of Waymo's self-driving vehicles for the first time. Watch as the ride takes a strange turn.
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