Residents in Austin, Texas are experiencing traffic congestion caused by Cruise-operated robotaxis, similar to what Californians have been encountering. Over the weekend, photos and videos of a Cruise-induced traffic jam circulated on social media. Unlike previous incidents, this particular one occurred in Austin, Texas, a major tech hub and the home of Tesla.
Approximately 20 Cruise-operated Chevrolet Bolts were stuck on San Gabriel Street late Saturday night, some even blocking the oncoming side of the street. The cause of the jam remains unknown, but it is not uncommon for Cruise vehicles to get stuck and require human intervention. Cruise vehicles have a feature called Vehicle Recovery Event, which involves human intervention to resolve issues.
Videos and photos posted online showed Cruise workers attempting to operate the cars remotely in an effort to clear the road. A Cruise spokesperson suggested that the problem might have been related to pedestrian traffic, although the footage did not show a significant number of pedestrians in the area during the gridlock.
Cruise emphasized that their vehicles are designed to prioritize safety, including caution around pedestrians. The company continuously monitors its fleet and was alerted to the crowding event, eventually resolving the issue and allowing all vehicles to depart the area autonomously.
Local news channel KVUE reported another incident earlier in the week involving a Cruise vehicle stopped in an intersection. This caught the attention of Austin City Council Member Zohaib Qadri, who plans to address safety concerns at the next mobility council meeting.
Residents have expressed frustration with Cruise vehicles, citing blocked intersections and interference with emergency services. Travis County Judge Andy Brown raised concerns about the lack of regulation and oversight of autonomous vehicles. The department has reached out to other cities, such as Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C., for advice.
Cruise has acknowledged that their vehicles may encounter situations where they are uncertain about what to do next. In such cases, the vehicle will default to its safest action, which is pulling over. However, residents are demanding greater accountability and regulation to avoid further traffic disruptions and ensure the safety of pedestrians and drivers in Austin.
– The Drive