WATCH: Driverless Cars Cause Traffic Jam in San Francisco in Malfunction

Self-driving traffic jam (Associated Press)
Terry Chea / Associated Press

A group of about ten self-driving taxis became stuck in the San Francisco neighborhood of North Beach on Friday evening, causing a traffic jam just one day after regulators voted to allow driverless taxi companies virtual free rein in the city.

The jam was captured by bystanders, as drivers were stuck behind — and between — the driverless taxis, owned by the Cruise company.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the company blamed wireless connectivity issues related to a nearby music festival:

As many as 10 Cruise driverless cars stopped working in San Francisco’s North Beach on Friday night, causing traffic to back up and leaving some questioning the decision of state regulators a day earlier to approve the expanded use of robotaxis in the city.

The autonomous vehicles appeared to be stopped in the middle of Grant Avenue, according to social media posts, with hazards on, blocking other cars from moving.

In a response to the incident, Cruise said the backup was caused by “wireless connectivity issues” that immobilized the driverless cars. San Francisco police confirmed that the cell connectivity issues were caused by the large number of people at the nearby Outside Lands music festival overtaxing the system.

The Los Angeles Times noted:

At about 11 p.m. Friday, as many as 10 Cruise driverless taxis blocked two narrow streets in the center of the city’s lively North Beach bar and restaurant district. All traffic came to a standstill on Vallejo Street and around two corners on Grant. Human-driven cars sat stuck behind and in between the robotaxis, which might as well have been boulders: no one knew how to move them.

The cars sat motionless with parking lights flashing for 15 minutes, then woke up and moved on, witnesses said.

Cruise blamed cellphone carriers for the problem. At 11:01 p.m. Friday, Peskin sent a text message to Cruise government affairs manager Lauren Wilson. At 8:25 a.m. Saturday, she texted back: “As I understand it, outside lands impacted LTE cell connectivity and ability for RA advisors to route cars.” Outside Lands is a three-day music festival held in Golden Gate Park, four miles from North Beach.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had just approved Cruise and Waymo to operate unlimited numbers of driverless cars on the city’s streets, 24 hours per day and seven days per week, the Washington Post reported.

Social media is full of accounts of the cars malfunctioning on city streets on other occasions:

The CPUC vote was 3-1, with one of the “yes” votes cast by John Reynolds. He was “head lawyer at Cruise before [being] appointed to the CPUC by Gov. Gavin Newsom,” the Times noted, adding that critics saw that as evidence of “regulatory capture.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Photo: file


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