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June 06, 2022


Paloma Ave

Down goes Chester!


Would be interesting to see an autonomous taxi or other AV drive down El Camino where the lane lines in the northbound direction have been wiped out by construction. Reminiscent of when Kramer adopted and doted on a highway by “widening” the lanes.

If you see an AV stopped on ECR, it’s trying to figure out what to do.


The ECR stripes are sort of like water - "you don't know the value of water until the well runs dry". I have noticed how much I miss the stripes and what is it--a 20 minute task?

Today's SF Examiner goes a bit deeper on Cruise driverless taxis. You know things are rough at the Comicle when the Examiner out-reports you with ease. Salient points:

--Cruise declares the taxis can pull over to the curb to load/unload. No explanation for the video showing they did do it in some instances. Cruise notes that it is actually legal for commercial vehicles to use a traffic lane to load/unload passengers. Sort of like how Amazon, UPS, etc just stop on ECR to deliver packages without getting a ticket.....

--Because there is no driver to sign a ticket, SF has directed the police to not issue traffic tickets to robotaxis. The CPUC who issued the permit sort of blew this off, but the DMV sort of punted the question but seems to think it has the authority to revoke a permit issued by the CPUC. Go figure. The rest of it including classic SF whining is here:



Ruh-row. From today's WSJ:

California Regulator Looking Into Anonymous Letter Alleging Cruise’s Robotaxi Service Wasn’t Ready for Launch

A California regulator responsible for issuing driverless-car permits said it is looking into concerns raised in an anonymous letter that General Motors Co.’s Cruise LLC unit was preparing to launch its robotaxi service prematurely.

The California Public Utilities Commission said it had received an anonymous letter in mid-May from a person who said he had been working at the self-driving car company for a number of years.

In the letter, a copy of which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal, the person says that Cruise’s vehicles were regularly stalling at intersections and blocking lanes of traffic, and that employees had concerns internally about the readiness of the self-driving car company’s technology for commercial deployment.

The Journal hasn’t been able to independently verify the employment status of the letter’s author or the allegations raised by this person. Requests for comment sent to the email address listed on the letter weren’t returned.

In the letter, the person describes himself as a father and a Cruise employee for a number of years and asks that his comments remain private.

The letter also raises concerns about Cruise’s internal safety-reporting system, with the self-described employee citing one incident in which he filed a complaint that hadn’t been processed for six months.

The letter also claims that Cruise had regularly experienced incidents where vehicles stopped and were stranded individually or in clusters, blocking traffic. In some cases, the fallback systems designed to take control of the vehicle remotely failed, leaving Cruise employees unable to move the vehicles out of traffic until they were physically towed away, the person states in the letter.


News blurb from Foster City:

Zoox, Amazon’s self-driving unit, has hit the road with its driverless robotaxi for the first time.

On Saturday, one of those robotaxis made its first voyage in Foster City, California, the San Francisco suburb where Zoox is based. Starting this spring, Zoox employees will be able to hop on a robotaxi for a 1-mile ride between two buildings on the Zoox campus.

The maiden voyage is one step closer to bringing self-driving tech to the general public, Zoox wrote in a blog post announcing the milestone Monday. “Through dirt, dust and thousands of rigorous testing scenarios, we’ve proven our technology is ready for reality,” it wrote.


Better get someone working on that Caution Tape widget for the next software load:

Two driverless vehicles operated by Cruise became snared in a downed Muni line on Nob Hill during Tuesday’s intense storm, causing a tangle of cars and wires that took hours to unwind.

The incident happened around 9:45 p.m. on the 1 California line where a falling tree brought down the line at the intersection of Clay and Jones streets. According to John Phillip, who took pictures and tweeted about it, emergency crews came out and blocked off the intersection with caution tape but the autonomous cars drove through the caution tape and into the downed wire, Phillip said in a tweet.



Data is trickling in from SF on the Waymo and Cruise driverless taxis. The Comicle has three pieces this week:

S.F. says incidents by Cruise, Waymo driverless taxis are ‘skyrocketing.’ What is the city’s plan?

As driverless taxis ramp up operations in San Francisco, their disruption and close calls have increased in frequency and severity as well, officials say. “It really, really concerns me that something is going to go horribly wrong,” Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson said.

The Fire Department has tallied 44 incidents so far this year in which robotaxis entered active fire scenes, ran over fire hoses or blocked fire trucks from responding to emergency calls. That count is double the figure from last year’s informal count, which Nicholson said does not include all incidents.

Julia Friedlander, SFMTA’s senior manager of automated driving policy, told state regulators in late June that driverless taxi incidents began “skyrocketing” this year. Though city leaders suspect it coincides with a rise in driverless activity, Friedlander said the city can’t make definitive conclusions because it doesn’t have detailed data.

The city is left in the dark about the exact number of driverless taxis operating in its streets, and the miles they’ve traveled. Data captured by state regulators, officials say, doesn’t capture the extent of the vehicles’ disruption and potential hazard on city streets.


But Waymo can also surveil the streets and human drivers

Waymo’s driverless cars observed human-driven cars speeding one-third of the time on city streets with 25 and 30 mph speed limits, according to the study. In Phoenix — another Waymo test market with more wider arterials than San Francisco — the driverless cars captured human drivers speeding up to 47% of the time.

“What we were surprised by in our study was the extent of the speeding,” said Trent Victor, Waymo’s director of safety research and best practices.

According to the study, San Francisco drivers sped 5 mph over the limit on streets with 25 mph speed limits 7% of the time and 9% of the time on streets with 30 mph speed limits.


And then there is the reaction by civilian street monitors:

But one anti-car group, Safe Street Rebel, isn’t letting this happen without a fight.

Over the past few days, the band of roving activists have taken to the streets of San Francisco (by bicycle, of course) to protest driverless cars by using orange traffic cones to stop them in their tracks. When a cone is placed on the hood of a driverless car, the vehicles halt and flick on their hazard lights, seemingly paralyzed by the obstruction. After all, there’s no one in the cars who can come out and knock the cones off.


All of this puts off the decision on letting the taxis charge for rides until mid August.


Things are getting hot in EssEff as Cruise robotaxis cause more problems:

The California Department of Motor Vehicles asked Cruise on Friday to reduce its fleet of driverless taxis by half pending an investigation into recent crashes, including two in San Francisco on Thursday night.

“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,” a statement Friday evening from the DMV said.

The investigation comes after a driverless Cruise car with a passenger inside collided with a fire truck on Thursday night.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the driverless Cruise car, which had a green light, entered the intersection at Polk and Turk streets in the Tenderloin, the company wrote in a tweet Friday morning, and was hit by a fire truck that was en route to an emergency scene.

In an update Friday, Cruise explained what it believes contributed to the crash. The company said the intersection has buildings that block the view, making it difficult for the robotaxis — as well as human drivers — to track vehicles coming around the corner until they are at the intersection. The Cruise car had difficulty “charting” the path of the emergency vehicle, too, because the fire truck was traveling “in the oncoming lane of traffic, which it had moved into to bypass the red light,” the company said.



I do not know Lenny Seigel who was mayor of Mountain View in 2018, but his opinion piece in yesterday's Comicle is a gem of insight garnered by asking A LOT of good questions about Autonomous Vehicles. I went up to ESS EFF yesterday to see the Blue Angels and the recent ruling uncapping how many Waymo and Cruise robotaxis was very evident--even in the northeast quadrant where they have been limited. Check some of his questions out:

Monday’s gruesome accident that left a woman pinned under a Cruise driverless car in downtown San Francisco is raising new questions about the safety of autonomous vehicles. But even if Cruise and other companies overcome their widely publicized safety and other operational problems, driverless vehicles face challenges that they, as well as government agencies, have barely recognized.

Take parking, for example. Where will self-driving taxis hang out between jobs? Will they circle in traffic, waiting to be summoned? Will they obey parking rules and pay at meters?

Will autonomous vehicles be able to take instructions from people directing traffic, including police? For robotaxi fleets, perhaps humans in control centers will intervene, but those are at risk for communications breakdowns and even deliberate hacking.

---Editor note---Boy, do we have that problem in B'game especially on El Camino where Amazon, UPS, FedEx etc park half way off the road whenever and wherever they want.

Monday’s accident demonstrates that San Francisco’s police and fire departments are learning on the fly how to respond to autonomous vehicle incidents. Firefighters had to obstruct vehicle sensors in order to alert Cruise’s control center to disable the car. But even in more minor accidents, questions remain. How do autonomous vehicles exchange insurance information in a scrape or collision? What is hit and run for a driverless car? If there are passengers, will they be held accountable in any way?

---There's more here: https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/autonomous-vehicle-safety-regulation-sf-18408979.php


Chronicle reporter Richard Cano claims to have visited Phoenix for this article in yesterday's paper.

Driverless cars roam downtown’s compact streets at night, picking up patrons from bars and restaurants. A parade of them calmly arrives at the airport, dropping off hurried travelers. It’s not uncommon to catch them on the freeway, even if they’re not carrying riders.

They do all this with little regulation, attracting little concern from public officials or residents, many of whom eagerly embrace the idea of people ditching their private automobiles to ride in a robotaxi. And, notably, the autonomous vehicles are not making constant headlines for stalling in front of a fire truck or narrowly missing a bicyclist.

This isn’t an idealized vision of San Francisco foretold by the robotaxi companies. It’s what is quietly unfolding, right now, 750 miles away in the desert valley of Phoenix.
"downtown's compact streets"? Phoenix? I'm no expert, but I have driven around Phoenix a bit including some of the older sections of town and "compact" would be one of the last terms I would use for the layout......


An August 24th Cruise driverless accident coupled with a bit of coverup about the SF accident has caused the Cruise CEO and his co-founder to resign.

The Journal reports on numerous red flags popping up inside the company even before the SF accident. Three software recalls in 15 months.

GM owns 80% of Cruise and is on pace to lose $2 billion this year on Cruise which is 16% of its full-year operating profit..............

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