Cruise robotaxis blocked traffic for hours on this San Francisco street

More than a half dozen Cruise robotaxis stopped operating and sat in a street in San Francisco late Tuesday night, blocking traffic for a couple of hours until employees arrived and manually moved the autonomous vehicles.

Photos and a description of the Cruise robotaxi blockade were shared to a Reddit post on a subreddit about happenings in the city.

The cars appear to have been stalled at the intersection of Gough and Fulton Streets.

“We had an issue earlier this week that caused some of our vehicles to cluster together,” a Cruise spokesperson said. “While it was resolved and no passengers were impacted, we apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced.”
The vehicles were recovered through a combination of remote assistance and manual retrieval.

The mishap comes less than a week after Cruise launched its first fully driverless, commercial robotaxi service in the city. Cruise’s vehicles are initially operating between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on designated streets and without a human safety operator behind the wheel. The Reddit post subsequently made the rounds on Twitter.

“The first thing I say to my co-worker is that they’re getting together to murder us,” wrote the OP. “It was a pretty surreal event. Humans had to come and manually take the cars away. Cruise should get fined to shit for blocking the street off for so long. They even made it so the street sweeper couldn’t hit an entire block.”

Fines for blocking the street sweeper are around $76 per car in San Francisco. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) did not respond to TechCrunch’s requests for more information about how it handles such situations with autonomous vehicles and whether Cruise will receive any fines for blocking the intersection.

The issue calls into question the policy cities need to build around autonomous vehicles when they break the law, as well as Cruise’s own operational protocol for these types of incidents.

In April, a Cruise car was pulled over by a police officer because its headlights had malfunctioned. An Instagram video of the event shows the car pulling over when signaled to do so, but when the cop tried to open the driver-side door, the vehicle drove off and then pulled over a little way down the road and activated its hazards. The cop then approached the vehicle again. No citation was issued.