Cruise Releases Lukewarm Apology After Self-Driving Car Blocks SF Emergency Crews

After one of the company’s self-driving cars impaired emergency crews at the scene of SF’s recent mass shooting, Cruise took to Twitter to (kind of) apologize for its dangerous blunder.

San Francisco recently recorded its most significant mass shooting in nearly three decades. The episode of gun violence, which occurred on Friday, June 9th, around 9 p.m. on 24th Street and Treat Avenue in SF’s Mission District, left nine individuals wounded — each one transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. Though some victims (all of whom were between 19 and 25 years old) suffered life-threatening injuries, no deaths have been recorded in relation to the incident; all victims are expected to recover.

When emergency crews initially descended on the scene, they were met with a roadblock. But not by means of a fallen structure or street crowd. No. It was (*ready your eyes for a long roll*) a self-driving Cruise car that was rendered motionless by the crisis.

Twitter user [at]paulvaldezsf uploaded a video this past Friday that recorded a “reckless” car from the autonomous driving company Cruise car sitting inactive, while an on-site SFPD officer is heard calling for medical aid. That self-driving vehicle — one of around 240 operated by Cruise in San Francisco, as we previously — blocked emergency crews from promptly doing their jobs… of saving lives… when every second is a matter of life and death.

(If you listen closely enough, you can hear the same on-site officer yell the car is “blocking emergency, medical and fire — I gotta get it out of here now.”)

In a true capitalist startup fashion, the self-driving vehicle company, which is headquartered at 333 Brannan Street, tweeted out an apology that read like merely an acknowledgment that its vehicle just so happened to be at the scene of the crime.

“Hi, [at]paulvadezsf,” the company tweets in reply to the original video showing the motionless car. “Like all of us in San Francisco, we are saddened by this tragic event in our home city. Our thoughts are with the victims and families and we wish them all a full recovery. For more context on our vehicle interaction on the scene, read on below.”

Yes, yes we will read on below

“Our car initially stopped as it was approaching an active emergency scene, then proceeded to perform a U-turn and pull over,” Cruise continues in its second tweet of three in relation to the incident. “Throughout this time, all vehicles, including emergency response vehicles, were able to proceed around our car.”


And right there in that last sentence is all you need to prove the company’s complacent in what’s now SF’s largest mass shooting since the one at 101 California Street in 1993.

The mere fact that these first-response vehicles had to navigate around the negligent self-driving Chevy Bolt is, in and of itself, a problem. Those are precious seconds, perhaps even collectively representing minutes of time, lost to working around a car — a vehicle rendered utterly useless by an increasingly common malice in the United States.

Moreover, a spokesperson for Cruise elucidated after that initial Twitter thread that a lane of traffic remained open beside the autonomous taxi; the car, too, was being monitored remotely by a conscious mortal; that sentient biped, per the representative, can moderate these vehicles in Cruise’s fleet through disaster sites.

Apparently, each car includes a speaker system that Cruise can use to communicate with riders, drivers, and law enforcement officers trying to give commands. Alas, it appears the on-site officer hurrying to move the vehicle was out of auditory range. That’s an uneasy problem — and one that would, theoretically speaking, require a fleet-wide retrofit to address.

By the time a Cruise employee became aware of the 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; it was completely surrounded by police tape prior to being moved by a human, the San Francisco Chronicle noted

It’s a dystopian amount of lethargy and unhurriedness from Cruise. And it only adds fuel to the fire — rather: electrons to lithium ions in this case, as all of Cruise’s self-driving cars operating in SF are all-electric Chevy Bolts — as to why it might be time to pull back on the number of autonomous cars on SF’s streets.

A Waymo car struck and killed a small dog in May; yet another Cruise car was stalled this past Friday, which took hours before it was removed off a lane on 9th Street; though Forbes has infamously put their editorial heels in the ground to assure the public that self-driving cars are safe alternatives, the cumbersome problems they cause outside of the driver’s seat continue multiplying. 

“We’re thankful to all our first responders for helping to keep us safe during situations like this and are committed to working collaboratively with them,” Cruise concluded in its laughable, elementary apology.

It’s not a collaboration with emergency crews, per se, it’s more of a workaround — quite literally. The irony of that aforenoted bout of gratitude? Cruise cars are creating unsafe situations around San Francisco. This is something that will take a human touch to better.

Feature Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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