A difficulty with self-driving vehicles has come t0 gentle that apparently nobody beforehand thought of: dozing passengers.
Officers in San Francisco, the place Alphabet’s Waymo firm and GM-backed Cruise are at present working robotaxi providers as a part of ongoing trials, highlighted the issue in a latest letter to the regulator, Wired reported.
Signed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Company, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and the Mayor’s Workplace on Incapacity, the letter to the California Public Utilities Fee (CPUC) defined that within the final couple of months alone, there have been three incidents the place Cruise employees have been compelled to name 911 after a rider in one among its driverless automobiles failed to answer their calls through the two-way voice hyperlink contained in the automobile.
When police and firefighters arrived on the scene, they discovered nothing greater than a dozing passenger having fun with — apparently slightly an excessive amount of — the comforts of a driverless journey.
The story could sound amusing at first, however because the companies identified of their letter to the regulator, such episodes not solely squander public cash, but in addition divert necessary assets away from others who could genuinely require help.
The letter is a part of a broader effort by the companies calling on the CPUC regulator to gradual the growth of robotaxi pilot assessments in San Francisco till the know-how is best ready, NBC reported.
Apart from the problem of snoozing passengers, the letter additionally cited incidents prior to now yr the place autonomous vehicles have been inflicting issues on the roads.
They embody one the place 5 Cruise automobiles blocked a metropolis avenue, stopping a passenger bus from getting by, inflicting a delay to the service. The incident was paying homage to one other one which occurred in June final yr.
The corporate’s automobiles have additionally precipitated issues with the work of firefighters, for instance, driving over hoses as they tried to work.
There was additionally the weird taking place the place San Francisco cops took time to work out how you can cope with an empty autonomous automotive that had apparently dedicated a visitors violation. As officers stood round discussing what to do, the automotive drove off earlier than parking a brief distance away.
One other letter from the identical companies famous that “the massive majority” of the reported unplanned automobile stops concerned Cruise vehicles slightly than Waymo ones, however stated the low fee of complaints concerning Waymo automobiles “could mirror solely a decrease quantity of Waymo driverless automobile miles traveled slightly than superior Waymo efficiency — or might mirror each automobile miles traveled and efficiency variations.”
The companies stated they’re pleased for Waymo and Cruise to proceed testing their driverless automobiles, however that growth of such actions ought to be performed at a cautious tempo and with particular situations to create “the most effective path towards public confidence in driving automation and business success in San Francisco and past.”
Cruise gained a allow in June final yr to make use of 30 automobiles as robotaxis — sans backup drivers — in designated elements of San Francisco between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The corporate extra just lately acquired permission to check driverless vehicles across the clock, although it nonetheless wants ultimate approval from the CPUC. A short time later, in November, Waymo additionally acquired a allow to supply absolutely driverless rides to passengers, although not like Cruise, Waymo is at present not permitted to cost for such rides.

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