In what must be one of the strangest stories related to the development of autonomous vehicles, a fleet of autonomous cars Cruise met at an intersection in San Francisco earlier this week, parked and blocked traffic for several hours. And to be clear: no, they weren’t supposed to do that.
Some observers may have thought they were witnessing the beginning of the robot uprising, but the real reason for the mishap was more prosaic: a problem with the platform’s software.
Staff at the General Motors-owned Cruise were called in to take control of some of the errant vehicles, while others were moved through remote intervention, according to TechCrunch.
A reddit post about the self-driving skid described “a bunch of cruiser cars stuck” on Gough and Fulton streets about two miles from Fisherman’s Wharf. Looking closely at the attached images, it appears that at least eight of Cruise’s self-driving vehicles were parked across the street. A Twitter post also captured the scene:
Some @Cruise robotaxis appeared to be stuck in SF last night at the corner of Gough St. and Fulton St.
Human ops apparently had to rescue them. Still some kinks to iron out. pic.twitter.com/eXDocjVfHU
— Taylor Ogan (@TaylorOgan) June 30, 2022
The bizarre incident comes four months after Cruise began offering self-driving rides to people in San Francisco as part of a trial robotaxis service, and just days after it began charging passengers for rides.
At the current time, Cruise’s self-driving cars are allowed to operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when the roads are quieter. There is no backup driver behind the wheel, so passengers are truly alone in the vehicle. It is unclear if there were any drivers in the cars who got stuck.
Commenting on the incident, Cruise spokesman Drew Pusateri told Digital Trends in English: “We had an issue earlier this week that caused some of our vehicles to bunch up. While it was resolved and no passengers were affected, we apologize to anyone who experienced any inconvenience.”
It’s not yet clear if authorities will punish Cruise for an apparent traffic violation, or indeed if the city has any kind of system for dealing with self-driving cars that are found to have broken the law.
One thing is clear: the city’s police officers are still getting used to the idea of stopping a vehicle with no one in it.