DMV calls on Cruise to halve driverless car fleet in SF

The California Department of Motor Vehicles today requested that Cruise cut in half its fleet of driverless cars in San Francisco, following “concerning incidents” involving the vehicles.

According to a statement released this evening by the DMV, Cruise has agreed to immediately reduce its operational fleet in the city by 50 percent. This will mean having “no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day and 150 driverless vehicles in operation at night,” according to the statement.

The DMV also warns that the department reserves the right “to suspend or revoke testing and/or deployment permits,” if there is a risk to public safety.

A Cruise spokesperson confirmed that the company is complying with the request.

“We believe it’s clear that Cruise positively impacts overall road safety, and look forward to working with the CA DMV to make any improvements and provide any data they need to reinforce the safety and efficiency of our fleet,” the spokesperson wrote over email.

Aaron Peskin, president of the board of supervisors, said he welcomed reducing the number of driverless Cruise cars on the road.
“So the state of California does have a pulse,” said Peskin. “I am pleasantly surprised, although it never should have been allowed to get this far, this fast. This is clearly an admission that San Francisco was right and this technology is not ready for prime time.”

surveillance cam footage of last night’s crash. driver of the gray car coming down mission st. toward the autonomous car, which appears to have started driving through a green light.the empty cruise vehicle detects the oncoming car — and stops dead in the intersection.— Eleni Balakrishnan (@miss_elenius) August 19, 2023
Today’s interjection from the Department of Motor Vehicles comes after a series of troubling incidents the week after the California Public Utilities Commission gave autonomous vehicle companies Cruise and Waymo the right to operate 24/7 across San Francisco.
On Friday, Aug. 11, the day after the PUC vote, nearly a dozen Cruise cars stopped in the middle of a two block stretch in North Beach, causing backups in all directions.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 16, City Attorney David Chiu filed a motion for the California Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its citywide approval. The entirety of the Board of Supervisors had earlier urged the state body to slow the rollout of driverless cars.

On Thursday, Aug. 16, Mission Local filmed another Cruise vehicle that froze on Mission Street before turning into an active construction zone on the wrong side of the road.

That night, a fire engine slammed into a Cruise car that had stopped in the middle of an intersection on a green light, injuring its passenger. The fire truck had its lights and sirens on, said police officials. On the same night, a cruise vehicle and a car collided on Mission and 26th.

In a blog post about the fire engine incident, Cruise General Manager Greg Dieterich said that there were “several factors that added complexity to this specific incident.” According to Dieterich, the engine was “in the oncoming lane of traffic, which it had moved into to bypass the red light.”

Cruise cars interfered with a Recology trash truck early Wednesday morning.Additionally, Mission Local has obtained video of an early morning Aug. 16 incident when multiple Cruise vehicles blockaded a Recology garbage truck on Hayes Street, refusing to yield and allow the driver to back up.

Here is this evening’s statement from the Department of Motor Vehicles in full:

Safety of the traveling public is the California DMV’s top priority. The primary focus of the DMV’s regulations is the safe operation of autonomous vehicles and safety of the public who share the road with these vehicles.

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The DMV is investigating recent concerning incidents involving Cruise vehicles in San Francisco. The DMV is in contact with Cruise and law enforcement officials to determine the facts and requested Cruise to immediately reduce its active fleet of operating vehicles by 50% until the investigation is complete and Cruise takes appropriate corrective actions to improve road safety. Cruise has agreed to a 50% reduction and will have no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day and 150 driverless vehicles in operation at night.

The DMV reserves the right, following investigation of the facts, to suspend or revoke testing and/or deployment permits if there is determined to be an unreasonable risk to public safety.

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