Less than a week after California regulators opened the floodgates to driverless robotaxis in San Francisco, the city has asked for that rollout to be suspended.
In a motion Wednesday, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu asked the California Public Utilities Commission — which oversees taxis and autonomous vehicles — to pause the expansion while the city seeks a rehearing, citing safety concerns.
“When deploying powerful, new technology, safety should be the top priority,” Chiu said in a statement. “We have seen that this technology is not yet ready.”
Chiu said the city “will suffer serious harms from this unfettered expansion, which outweigh whatever impacts [autonomous-vehicle] companies may experience from a minimal pause in commercial deployment. The city is simply requesting the CPUC preserve the status quo while it seeks rehearing.”
Autonomous cars from Waymo, a unit of Alphabet
Last Thursday, the CPUC approved the unlimited expansion of Waymo and Cruise for-pay robotaxis across the entire city, 24/7, despite concerns from San Francisco officials, many of whom pointed out a rising number of incidents involving the driverless cars blocking traffic and emergency vehicles.
Matters weren’t helped by a series of high-profile incidents in the past week, as a cluster of Cruise cars froze and blocked traffic in the busy North Beach neighborhood Friday night, and two other Cruises drove through construction sites this week — one into wet concrete.
Last week’s decision “permits industry expansion without solving any of the underlying problems,” San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson said in a statement. “These incidents with public safety are not going away and are in fact increasing.”
Meanwhile, Waymo is reportedly set to start charging for robotaxi rides in San Francisco on Monday.