Cruise self-driving taxi gets wheels stuck in wet cement

This is not the robotaxi future that was promised

Just days after Cruise won the right to operate completely computer-controlled taxi rides in San Francisco at all hours, one of its units has got stuck in wet cement.

Reports coming from both local media and social media on Tuesday show the front tires of a Cruise car sunk deeply into a drying part of fresh-patched road at a construction site on Golden Gate Avenue between Fillmore and Steiner Streets in San Francisco.

"It thinks it's a road and it ain't, because it ain't got a brain and it can't tell that it's freshly poured concrete," resident Paul Harvey told SFGate.

Harvey, who provided a photo of the situation, had a good point: a human eye may notice the contrast of the different textures on the road alongside orange cones and make proper assumptions, but the similar color tones between the street and wet cement could easily confuse AI.

The Reg contacted Cruise to get a better understanding of the incident and will report back if there is a substantial reply.

According to the company’s social media, the vehicle was removed before its blunder was, ahem, cemented.

Other blunders from Cruise this week include allegedly almost hitting two women accompanying two children to cross a street and a 10-car traffic jam following the Outside Lands music festival. Cruise explained that the festival created wireless bandwidth constraints that delayed connectivity for its vehicles.

"We are actively investigating and working on solutions to prevent this from happening again. We apologize to those who were impacted," it added.

Cruise's account on the website formerly known as Twitter is full of responses to mishaps.

On August 11, the company responded to a jam with details that its "AV waited for another car to complete a U-turn before continuing past the emergency vehicles." In that scenario, it claimed the interruption was shortlived – roughly one minute, with no blocking of emergency medical vehicle access.

Just a day before, a disabled Cruise car blocking traffic was being "actively monitored" with the company working to resolution, according to Cruise. These scenarios are why police, fire fighters, and other city agencies opposed the California Public Utilities Commission's decision to allow expanded hours for Cruise taxis.

Before the commission vote, Cruise was allowed to operate its automated vehicles without a human safety driver in certain parts of San Francisco from 2200 to 0600 and with a driver anywhere anytime in the city. The company told commissioners it was already operating 300 vehicles at night and 100 during the day.

Google-affiliated Waymo was also given expansion of services in the vote. It previously was allowed to charge for robo-taxi rides any time of day in the city if a safety driver was present. Now it can do so anytime in San Francisco. ®

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