‘Robo-taxi’ traps hit-and-run victim in San Francisco – report

A pedestrian has suffered traumatic injuries after being struck by a human-driven car and trapped under an autonomous robo-taxi in San Francisco.

A pedestrian who was struck by a human-driven car in a hit-and-run incident was subsequently trapped under a driverless ‘robo-taxi’, according to reports out of San Francisco.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the unnamed pedestrian was struck at about 9:30pm on Monday October 2 when she was crossing through an intersection.

Both the human-driven car and the autonomous robo-taxi next to it were given a green light and proceeded into the intersection, where the former reportedly struck the woman which caused her to be thrown to the road and into the path of the robo-taxi.

According to Cruise – the General Motors-owned operator of the robo-taxi – its autonomous vehicle applied the brakes but came to a stop on the woman, with its rear wheel and tyre pinning her leg to the ground.

While the driver of the car which originally struck the pedestrian fled the scene, the robo-taxi was unable to be moved by bystanders – with the San Francisco Fire Department later using the ‘jaws of life’ to lift the autonomous vehicle and free the woman.

San Francisco Fire Department Captain Justin Schorr told the publication the pedestrian was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with “multiple traumatic injuries”.

It is not yet known how much time had elapsed between the first car colliding with the pedestrian and the robo-taxi coming to a stop on her, though these factors will be investigated.

The incident is the latest in what has been a torrid handful of months for Cruise and other autonomous robo-taxis in the US.

Last week, almost two dozen Cruise robo-taxis created gridlock in Austin, Texas after one of the autonomous vehicles became stuck in an intersection, creating a queue of more cars trying to get through the area.

In August, a group of almost a dozen robo-taxis operated by Cruise reportedly immobilised themselves and caused a traffic jam in San Francisco – due to a reported loss of connectivity caused by a music festival which was occurring more than six kilometres away.

Cruise robo-taxis have also been vandalised in San Francisco, with one example being smashed with a hammer by a masked assailant last month, amid growing resistance to autonomous cars in the city.

A Cruise robo-taxi being attacked with a hammer

US publication NPR reports an anonymous activist group – called Safe Street Rebel – has been finding traffic cones and putting them on the vehicle’s sensors, effectively immobilising the autonomous cars until the objects can be removed.

Earlier this year the California Public Utilities Commission – the state’s regulatory agency for privately owned public utilities – voted in favour of allowing Cruise and fellow ‘robotaxi’ operator Waymo to operate their autonomous cars with greater frequency.

The new rules – which were reportedly passed three votes to one – allow Cruise and Waymo autonomous vehicles to operate for 24 hours per day, seven days a week in San Francisco and part of the nearby San Mateo County.

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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