SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A troubling traffic incident caused by a driverless Cruise car happened again on Wednesday — this time at a construction site on Mission Street.
A witness recorded video of the Cruise car driving past hazard signs reading “road closed” and a construction worker holding a “stop” sign. Video uploaded on X shows the car driving through the construction site, slowly veering onto the wrong side of the yellow line, and “bricking” with its hazard lights on. Two San Francisco Police Department officers followed the car.
The witness wrote on Twitter, “Watched a self-driving car freeze in a Mission Street intersection this morning. Then (the car) eventually abandon its otherwise safe left turn to drive into a construction site on the wrong side of the road. Police resources then get spent figuring out what the hell to do about it.”
Cruise and Waymo’s driverless cars are “baffled” by construction sites, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials told KRON4.
When a car’s self-driving technology becomes confused, the car simply stops where it is, turns on its hazard lights, and doesn’t move until an employee intercepts the vehicle, according to city transportation officials.
KRON4 sent Cruise the video of Wednesday’s incident. Cruise company spokesperson Drew Pusateri wrote, “Our cars are designed to detect human controlled traffic and construction zones, but like human drivers, don’t do so perfectly in every case. We are always working on making improvements.”
Driverless cars are also known as Autonomous Vehicles, or “AVs.”
The SFMTA wrote, “AVs are good at handling all basic driving maneuvers. But they don’t understand how to interact with humans. They can be very slow to understand officers directing traffic at our busiest intersections, and when they get confused they brick in traffic. When human drivers get confused or have engine trouble, they find a safe place to pull over and sort things out. When AVs get confused, they simply stop wherever they happen to be. Most of the time, a human operator must then travel from somewhere else in the city to rescue the vehicle.”
Several Cruise cars blocked busy city streets in North Beach during last weekend’s Outside Lands music festival. The tech company said its cars stopped because of “wireless connectivity issues” caused by the festival.
Pusateri said Cruise vehicles caused “a very small portion of traffic blockages overall.”
“We addressed these issues and did not see any recurrence throughout the Saturday or Sunday concert days. Cruise successfully transported thousands of concert-goers, amidst widespread reports of traffic congestion. We plan to continue improving our operations serving riders seeking safe, driverless transportation to and from large events,” the tech company’s spokesperson wrote.
Last week, Cruise and Waymo received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to expand robotaxi ride-hailing services in San Francisco and charge passengers for rides without drivers.