Two of San Francisco’s top transit bosses defrauded self-driving car company Cruise in a 39-page letter this week.
They discussed the myriad safety risks and traffic problems the company has recently caused in the city, including a June 3 crash that led to a recall of 80 of its cars.
In a written commentary to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Jeffrey Tumlin and Tilly Chang, the directors of the city and county transportation agencies, expressed deep concern. The letter was first reported by the San Francisco examiner.
It comes as a new application by Cruise’s parent company, General Motors, has been filed with the NHTSA to begin building a new type of all-electric self-driving car: the Cruise Origin.
The pair are concerned that if new technology doesn’t solve the problems with existing Cruise cars, the new cars could “quickly deplete emergency resources and undermine public confidence in any automated driving technology.”
The letter from Tumlin and Chang analyzes 28 formal complaints and 20 incidents posted on social media about cruise cars the city received between May and September this year.
The agency assumes that the reported incidents are only a fraction of the actual incidents that Cruise caused.
Most of the reported incidents involved cruise cars blocking lanes and causing traffic jams on some of the city’s most dangerous roads, known as the High Injury Network. The network accounts for 13% of San Francisco’s streets, where 75% of traffic accidents occur.
GM has agreed to provide some safety data and answer other questions from the federal agency. Cruise did not immediately respond to questions about safety changes the company could make to its new Origin cars.
Most of the other comments posted in response to the request are in support of Origin’s request or provide feedback, including from groups such as Disability Rights California.
Tumlin and Chang’s comment offers a laundry list of recommendations, including calling on the federal government to require Cruise to file regular incident and safety reports, restrict where the cars are allowed to drive in San Francisco, and consider allowing first responders. allow the cars to be turned off when necessary.
On Friday, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí weighed in on the agency’s comment, saying that San Francisco “should embrace and encourage this homegrown business.”