On Friday, Cruz agreed to a request by state regulators to cut in half the number of vehicles operating in the city, a day after one of its driverless taxis collided with a fire truck at a San Francisco intersection.
The setback for the driverless car company comes a week after the California Public Utilities Commission voted to allow the expansion of driverless taxi services from General Motors-owned Cruz and rival Google parent Alphabet’s Waymo. .
On Friday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which regulates the safety of driverless cars, asked Cruz to cut the number of vehicles operating in San Francisco in half. A passenger in a driverless car was injured yesterday when a cruise vehicle collided with a fire truck. Earlier in the week, another commuter vehicle got stuck in freshly poured concrete on another city street.
Cruz spokesman Drew Pusateri said in a statement Saturday that compared to injuries and deaths on the road today, Cruz “positively impacts overall road safety” and that it will provide state officials with “any data they need to strengthen the safety and efficiency of our fleet.”
The company, which now operates 400 vehicles in San Francisco, operates no more than 50 driverless cars during the day and 150 at night.
Last weekend, about 10 cruise vehicles stopped operating in the middle of a busy street in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, blocking traffic for 15 minutes. Mr. Cruz said he had difficulty connecting cars with crews because of increased cellular traffic due to a music festival four miles away in the city’s Golden Gate Park. Pusaderi said in an earlier statement.
A few other cruise vehicles were also parked on the streets near the park.
A week ago, the CPUC allowed the two companies to charge for rides anywhere in San Francisco 24 hours a day. The CPUC and DMV are the two agencies that regulate autonomous vehicles in California. Before a company can apply for driverless deployment permits from the DMV, it must get a permit — like the one Cruz and Waymo received last week — from the utilities commission.
The Motor Vehicles Commission said in a statement that it is “investigating recent incidents involving cruise vehicles in San Francisco.” The agency asked Cruise to reduce the number of vehicles operating in San Francisco “until the investigation is complete and Cruise takes appropriate corrective actions to improve road safety.”
“The DMV reserves the right, following an examination of the facts, to suspend or revoke testing and/or deployment permits if it determines there is an unreasonable risk to public safety,” the agency said in its statement.
San Francisco officials have complained since January that autonomous vehicles are interfering with emergency vehicles. Prior to this week, authorities had documented 55 incidents in which a driverless car stopped suddenly or interfered with emergency vehicles, including one incident involving firefighters at a house fire.
On Wednesday, city officials filed an injunction with the CPUC to temporarily halt the driverless taxi expansion. Neither company has detailed how it plans to add its driverless taxi services.