Another Self-Driving Car Stops Near Emergency Crews in San Francisco

A three-alarm fire broke out in SF’s Inner Sunset Tuesday night — and of course, a Cruise car was stopped there.

A large residential fire broke out on 1279 8th Avenue in the Inner Sunset sometime Tuesday evening. Initial reports put the fire, which engulfed a three-story apartment building, as either a one- or two-alarm blaze, but it was later elevated to a three-alarm fire as it grew.

According to San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter, no injuries were reported in the blaze that ignited on the second floor of Sunset Apartments. Bystanders were seen flocking the area and observing first responders dealing with the fire.

And while emergency crews were contending with the fire — a blaze that sent smoke billowing into the sky, visible from over a mile away — a familiar headache came pulsing back. Yes, reader: Yet another self-driving car operated by Cruise came to a standstill near emergency crews in San Francisco.

“Unbelievable, another Cruise impeding emergency responders at a fire in the [Inner Sunset,” reads a tweet — (an “X”? Who tf knows anymore) — from user [at]stanleycandles. In the shared video, a Cruise vehicle is shown listlessly behind a fire engine, side-saddling an on-site police vehicle to its left. According to a senior policy communications manager with Lyft, the car was stopped near the fire scene on Lincoln Way for almost three minutes before it was able to clear the location.

“[Did] anyone ask the residents if we wanted them to beta test in our city?” the user writes — a valid complaint. 

The answer to that question? No. The California Department of Motor Vehicles and California Public Utilities Commission had major says in that decision; it’s one of the growing reasons why San Franciscans have gone to great lengths to sway public, private, and committee opinion by protesting these cars in novel fashions — like, say, placing cones on models to effectively paralyze them.

San Franciscans are literally begging the City and State to halt autonomous vehicle companies like Cruise to thwart their expansions. As of publishing, there are well over 500 self-driving vehicles crisscrossing San Francisco; 240 of those are owned and operated by Cruise. But the company’s CEO, Kyle Vogt, has advocated that SF can handle not hundreds, but *thousands* of these vehicles, blanketing San Francisco is a quiltwork of driverless cars

It’s a wishful pontification… one that Vogt hopes will eliminate human-operated jobs in the taxi service and rideshare industry. 

On June 9th, a driverless Cruise vehicle suddenly stopped near the crime scene of what would later be known as San Francisco’s most enormous mass shooting in nearly 30 years. On-site first responders were recorded, growing frustrated at the vehicle’s unwanted, unwieldy presence.

By the time a Cruise employee became aware during the June crisis, it then took half an hour for someone with the company to arrive at the car, and move it out of the crime scene.

Thankfully, any delay or inability to access the crime scene didn’t result in fatalities. But when mere minutes — seconds, really — can separate someone from living and not living, any delay is a life-or-death condition.

Heaven forbid our apartment building catches on fire, and we’re trapped inside, we sure as hell hope a self-driving car isn’t preventing fire crews from accessing the building in a prompt manner.

Feature image: Still from X via [at]stanelycandles

*The story has been updated to include information provided by Cruise

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