SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Video footage recorded by a Cruise car’s cameras captured the moment that a pedestrian was struck by a human-driven car downtown before she was run over by Cruise’s driverless car.
San Francisco Police Department officers said they found the woman trapped under a Cruise autonomous vehicle on 5th Street near Market Street at 9:30 p.m. The pedestrian suffered multiple traumatic injuries. SFPD said a human-driven vehicle “may have been initially involved in the collision.”
A Cruise representative allowed KRON4 to view video footage recorded by its AV involved in the accident. The video confirmed that a human-driven car struck the woman first before she was thrown directly into the path of the Cruise car.
- The video begins with the human-driven car and driverless Cruise car waiting side-by-side at an intersection for a traffic light to turn green.
- After the light turns green, the video shows the woman walking in a crosswalk when she is struck by the human-driven car. At the moment of impact, the woman was crossing the street against a red light and walking in front of oncoming traffic.
- The video then shows the woman being thrown onto the hood and windshield of the human-driven car. She is carried on the hood for about a block. She then tumbles onto the pavement directly in front of the Cruise car.
- The video shows the Cruise car running the woman over.
- The human-driven car pauses before fleeing the scene.
- The video ends.
Cruise wrote in a statement, “A human-driven vehicle struck a pedestrian while traveling in the lane immediately to the left of a Cruise AV. The initial impact was severe and launched the pedestrian directly in front of the AV. The AV then braked aggressively to minimize the impact. The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene, and at the request of the police the AV was kept in place.”
The woman was still pinned under the Cruise car when firefighters and police arrived on scene. Firefighters were able to communicate with Cruise operators before crews used jaws of life heavy rescue tools to lift the autonomous vehicle off of the victim, the San Francisco Fire Department said.
SFPD Officer Robert Rueca told KRON4, “The (Cruise) vehicle was not occupied by a driver or a passenger at the time of the collision.”
The current condition of the victim is unknown at this time. Cruise wrote on Tuesday, “Our heartfelt concern and focus is the wellbeing of the person who was injured. We are actively working with police to help identify the responsible driver.”
Could the second collision have been avoided if a human was behind the wheel of the Cruise car? “This is a hard question,” said Cal State East Bay computer science professor Moayed Daneshyari.
Daneshyari, an expert in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, explained how autonomous driving technology performs in these types of scenarios. “The autopilot adjust, not just for the vehicle in front, but there are cameras all around and they consider all different scenarios. The coders basically put that scenario into the system and these machine learning algorithms. They learn from their past experiences.”
As far as where AV technology stands now, humans have computers beat when it comes to average response times for random scenarios on the road, the professor said. “The response time is less than the average human,” Daneshyari said.
Daneshyari said the investigation will reveal the response time of the Cruise car during Monday night’s collision. “We have to basically wait for the investigation,” the professor said.
The SFPD Traffic Collision Investigations Unit is leading the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact SFPD at 415-575-4444, or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with “SFPD.”