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Turns out that driverless robotaxis still may not be ready for primetime.
A shining example of this revelation came from California this week where, one day after the state implemented a massive expansion of the robotaxis, it was faced with a 10-car driverless traffic jam in San Francisco.
The 10 taxies "blocked two narrow streets in the center of the city’s lively North Beach bar and restaurant district", according to a report from Yahoo Finance, which said the robotaxis "might as well have been boulders" because nobody knew how to move them.
The jam clogged up Vallejo Street and two corners on Grant, as human drivers were unable to maneuver around the automated vehicles, the report says. The robotaxis sat with their parking lights flashing for 15 minutes before "waking up" and eventually moving on.
"Our houses in North Beach are made of sticks," said Aaron Peskin, who represents North Beach on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He tried to allay his fears that robotaxis could jam the streets close in the event of a major emergency or fire where people needed to evacuate an area.
Cruise, who oversees the project, blamed cellphone carriers for the problem. Government affairs manager Lauren Wilson told Peskin: “As I understand it, outside lands impacted LTE cell connectivity and ability for RA advisors to route cars.”
The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday voted 3 to 1 to allow the robotaxi expansion. The vote didn't come without controversy, however, as the report notes there was significant pushback on the idea from the mayor's office, which claims that Cruise has a laundry list of fixes it must implement before the taxis are ready for primetime. For now, it looks as though the skeptics have a point...
Peskin has said that officials are "pursuing 'every means' to have the CPUC decision reversed" after the incident.
He concluded: “If you’re looking for an example of regulatory capture, you’re seeing it now. It's unethical and immoral but legal. Bottom line, this all goes to Gov. Gavin Christopher Newsom.”
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