A Cruise self-driving car owned by General Motors was seen outside the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

Heather Somerville | Reuters

Cruise is countering allegations by the San Francisco Fire Department that one of its self-driving cars delayed the arrival of ambulances after a fatal accident.

A driver hit a pedestrian in the city around 11 p.m. on Aug. 14, the San Francisco Fire Department reported. Emergency medical services encountered a problem as they rushed to the scene of the accident: Two Cruise taxis were blocking the road, the department said.

The blockage delayed the pedestrian’s transport to the hospital, where they later died, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.

The department said of the incident in a report: “Such delays, no matter how minor, can lead to poor patient outcomes…The fact that Cruise self-driving cars continue to block incoming emergency 911 calls is unacceptable. of.”

But Cruise is pushing back on this account of events. A spokesman for the company said the videos of the self-driving cars tell a different story.

“Immediately after the light turned green, the first vehicle cleared the area and the other vehicle stopped in the driveway to make way for emergency personnel directing traffic,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement. The traffic remained unimpeded and flowed to the right of the autonomous vehicle throughout the entire process. The ambulance behind the AV had a clear path to pass the AV, and other vehicles, including the ambulance, could do the same. Victim 1 was loaded into the ambulance, which left the scene immediately and was never obstructed by the AV.”

Cruise would not share the video, calling it proprietary material.

But NBC Bay Area was able to review a nearly 13-minute video of what it says is the incident in question. It appeared to show what the company described, including an ambulance trying to squeeze past a stopped Cruise vehicle.

The incident came just four days after the California Public Utilities Commission approved an expansion plan for Cruise and Waymo that would allow both companies to operate self-driving cars 24/7 in San Francisco.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin has been critical of the move. While Peskin was unable to speak about the Aug. 14 incident, he did tell NBC Bay Area that more than 70 incidents of self-driving cars interfering with first responders have now been documented.

“In this case, seconds and minutes can determine whether a person will lose blood, or be able to recover from a heart attack or other emergency,” he said. It’s a question of ‘when.’”

Peskin is demanding more state regulation of the nascent self-driving industry. He said the city will hold talks with lawmakers and DMV leadership later this month.


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