Cruises’ outbursts of robotic cars set in motion in San Francisco | MarketingwithAnoy

Around midnight On June 28, Calvin Hu drove with his girlfriend near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as he stopped at an intersection behind two white and orange autonomous Chevrolet Bolts powered by Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors. Another was stopped to his right in the adjacent lane. The light turned green, but the cars driving in the city without drivers did not move.

As Hu was preparing to reverse and drive around the frozen vehicles, he says, he noticed that several cruise vehicles had stopped in the tracks behind him. Hu, another driver and a paratransit bus were caught in a robot taxi sandwich.

After a few minutes of confused waiting, Hu says, he grabbed to drive over the front edge of the middle edge of the street to escape. When he returned a few minutes later on foot to see if the situation was resolved, the Cruise vehicles had not moved. A person who appeared to be working for the company had parked at the intersection, Hu says, as if to indicate that the street was closed and trying to direct traffic away from the immobile self-driving cars. Hu estimates that the robotic car blockade, which has not been previously reported, lasted at least 15 minutes.

The cruise vehicles that captured Hu were not the only autonomous cars that stopped traffic in San Francisco that night. Internal messages seen by WIRED show that nearly 60 vehicles were disabled across the city during a 90-minute period after they lost contact with a cruise server. As many as 20 cars, some of them stopped at pedestrian crossings, created a queue in the city center by an incident first reported by San Francisco Examiner and detailed in pictures posted to Reddit. In a written statement, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which oversees state autonomous vehicle operations, said they were aware of the incident and would meet with Cruise to “obtain additional information.”

The June 28 outcome was not Cruises’ first. On the evening of May 18, the company lost contact with its entire fleet for 20 minutes as its cars sat stopped on the street, according to internal documentation seen by WIRED. Company staff were unable to see where the vehicles were located, or communicate with riders inside. Worst of all, the company was unable to access its backup system, which allows remote operators to safely steer stopped vehicles to the side of the road.

A letter sent anonymously by a Cruise Officer to the California Public Utilities Commission last month, which was reviewed by WIRED, claimed that the company loses contact with its driverless vehicles “on a regular basis”, blocks traffic and potentially obstructs emergency vehicles. The vehicles can sometimes only be salvaged by a tow truck, the letter states. Photos and video posted on social media in Able to and June show Cruise vehicles stopped in San Francisco lanes seemingly inexplicably while city pedestrians and motorists navigated around them.

Cruise spokesman Tiffany Testo issued a written statement saying the company’s vehicles are programmed to drive and turn on their hazard warning lights when they encounter a technical problem or encounter road conditions they cannot handle. “We are working to minimize how often this happens, but it is and will remain an aspect of our overall security operations,” the statement said. Testo did not answer questions about multiple incidents in which cruise vehicles stopped in traffic.

The outages come at a crucial time for Cruise, which is accelerating its autonomous vehicle program on the difficult streets of San Francisco as it competes with well-capitalized rivals like Google’s sister company Waymo, Aurora and Zoox, which are owned by Amazon. In the spring General Motors bought out SoftBank Vision Fund’s $ 2.1 billion stake in Cruise and invested an additional $ 1.35 billion in the self-driving unit. Just over two weeks after the May crash that froze Cruise’s fleet, CPUC Cruises approved permission to charge for Uber-like ride-hail trips – paving the way for a full-fledged commercial robotic taxi service that could help the company start recovering the billions it has poured into building its technology.

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