Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Autonomous Vehicles

5 Weird Places Robotaxis Are Driving In San Francisco

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about opposition to unlimited robotaxi expansion in San Francisco. Some pro-robotaxi groups and fans are eager to see full expansion of robotaxi services in the San Francisco metro area (and broader), and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) sees no reason to halt the expansion. However, others, including the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) want a pause on expansion for now, at least. I wrote about some of the issues they’ve highlighted in that previous article, but reporting has brought out more specific problems, and they’re so intriguing that I couldn’t pass up doing a followup piece on them.

Here are 5 odd cases of robotaxis driving in weird, off-limits places or scenarios:

Image courtesy of San Francisco Fire Department.

Image courtesy of San Francisco Fire Department.

  1. Through electric trolley wires: San Francisco has iconic, old-school electric trolleys. It’s one of the few places in North America still sporting such transportation options. (Europe still has many of these.) Well, the city was hit with a severe rainstorm in March that ended up pushing some of those wires quite low — and a Cruise robotaxi reportedly drove through it and got tangled in it. “A Cruise car then got snarled in the overhead wire, dragging it upward the rest of the block,” the San Francisco Chronicle writes. “Cruise personnel who retrieved the entangled car had to manually back it up a half block ‘to release the tension on the wire,’ according to a San Francisco Fire Department report. No one was inside the cars at the time, and no one was hurt. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, had already de-energized the lines by the time the Cruise taxi hit them.” Yikes! But at least no one was hurt.
  2. Through yellow caution tape and sandwich boards: Apparently unaware of what yellow caution tape and sandwich boards mean — or just not noticing that they were in the cars’ path — Cruise robotaxis also drove right into an area where they weren’t supposed to drive during this storm. Trees had been downed, electricity wires had been downed — robotaxis acted as if it was just any other day and the signs of caution didn’t mean anything.
  3. Into fire scenes: Robotaxis have also driven right into fire scenes that no normal human would drive into, and that has included running over fire hoses. Some robotaxis have even blocked fire trucks.
  4. Into shooting scenes: Some robotaxis have reportedly also driven right into shooting scenes. I mean, think about it: how is a robotaxi supposed to know if people are shooting at each other across the street or on the side of the street? (Side note: we have a gun problem in the USA.) Luckily, again, no one has seemingly been hurt as a result of this — yet. Also, it might be worth noting that humans can also accidentally drive into shooting scenes.
  5. In front of emergency responders: It’s not clear if they have been driving or parked in such scenarios, but what’s been claimed is that some robotaxis have blocked emergency responders from where they need to go.

There are also cases of robotaxis blocking different forms of transit (buses, light rail, etc.) and other traffic. But, frankly, human drivers do that sometimes, too. It seems the CPUC does not see evidence that robotaxis are very abnormal in this regard, so I’m personally refraining from any broad judgement on that matter myself for now.

What do you think about all of this? Just need seem algorithm tweaks? Worth the tradeoff of not having so many distracted, drunk, or reckless human drivers on the road? Or should the robotaxi rollout be halted for now?

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

EV Obsession Daily!

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.
Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


You May Also Like

Clean Transport

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! According to registration data used as a proxy...


Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! With more electric vehicle choices than ever, EV...


Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! Jill Pestana is a California-based battery scientist and...

Electric Vehicles

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! Since the beginning of 2022, electric vehicle sales...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.