Less than a week after California regulators gave the green light to driverless robotaxis in San Francisco, the city has requested that the rollout be halted due to safety concerns.
San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu filed a motion on Wednesday, urging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which oversees taxis and autonomous vehicles, to pause the expansion while the city seeks a rehearing.
Chiu emphasized the importance of prioritizing safety when deploying new technology. He stated, "We have observed that this technology is not yet prepared."
The city's primary concern is the potential for significant harm resulting from the unrestricted expansion of driverless vehicles. Chiu argued that any inconvenience experienced by autonomous vehicle companies due to a temporary pause in deployment is outweighed by the risks posed to San Francisco.
The CPUC previously approved Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, and GM subsidiary Cruise to introduce robotaxis throughout the entire city, operating 24/7. However, San Francisco officials expressed concerns about incidents involving driverless cars blocking traffic and emergency vehicles.
Recent high-profile incidents have only exacerbated these concerns. Last Friday, a group of Cruise cars caused a traffic jam in the busy North Beach neighborhood. Furthermore, two other Cruise vehicles drove through construction sites, with one even entering wet concrete.
San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson criticized the decision, stating that it allows industry expansion without addressing the underlying problems. She emphasized that issues affecting public safety are not improving and are, in fact, escalating.
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