Cruise robotaxi gets in accident with San Francisco fire truck, one injured

Heather Somerville | Reuters
  • A Cruise robotaxi hit a San Francisco Fire Department vehicle which was on the way to an emergency call in a late-night incident Thursday. One passenger with non-severe injuries was transported via ambulance.
  • The incident comes a week after California approved fare collection for driverless vehicles within San Francisco, after months of testing by Cruise and other self-driving car companies.
  • San Francisco fire leadership previously expressed concerns about self-driving cars obstructing emergency operations.

A Cruise self-driving car was involved in an accident with a San Francisco Fire Department truck just one week after California regulators approved 24-7 robotaxi service in San Francisco.

The incident occurred on Thursday around 10 PM in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, at the intersection of Polk and Turk Streets, Cruise said in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. One person was transported via ambulance with what the company believed were "non-severe injuries."

"One of our cars entered the intersection on a green light and was struck by an emergency vehicle that appeared to be en route to an emergency scene," Cruise posted to X. A video obtained by ABC 7 showed it was a fire truck.

The San Francisco Police Department was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

"Our primary concern is the rider and their welfare, and we have reached out to offer support. We are also deeply mindful of the well-being of the first responders and any individuals affected by this incident," Cruise said in an X post.

California's Public Utility Commission voted 3 to 1 last week to approve the rollout of driverless, fare-collecting vehicles in San Francisco. Self-driving cars from Cruise and Alphabet-subsidiary Waymo had already become regular sights on San Francisco roads in the preceding months.

In less than a week, the driverless robotaxis were creating traffic jams, CNBC has previously reported. The company has already reached 4 million driverless miles, according to CEO Kyle Vogt.

San Francisco firefighters had expressed concern about the rollout before the incident occurred. "Our folks cannot be paying attention to an autonomous vehicle when we've got ladders to throw," San Francisco Fire chief Jeanine Nicholson said at a public meeting ahead of the Commission's approval, NPR reported.

Nicholson cited multiple instances of self-driving vehicles obstructing emergency operations in the meeting, including blocking firehouse doors, running through emergency tape, and obstructing roadways.

Cruise became a General Motors subsidiary in 2016, according to PitchBook data. The company was last valued at $30 billion in 2021, and minority investors include Microsoft, Honda, and Walmart, according to PitchBook data.

Cruise did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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