Stuck On The Streets Of San Francisco In A Driverless Car
A reporter and a photographer went for a ride in an experimental autonomous vehicle operated by the General Motors subsidiary Cruise. There were bumps in the road.
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Cade Metz reported this story from the back seat of a driverless car in San Francisco.
Spooky Impressive Perplexing And Stressful
My trip began at a neighborhood restaurant called Bistro Central Parc. A Cruise employee told me that I would need to download the companys app to hail a car. But I couldnt. I have an Android phone yes, my daughters make fun of me and the app works only on iPhones. So the company gave me a loaner.
Cruise opened the window for riding an hour early for reporters. Right at 9 p.m., I hailed a car for a round trip to Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, about three miles away. Jason Henry, a photographer, would join me for the ride, which the app said would take about 21 minutes, or about 50 percent longer than what an Uber with a human driver would typically take. Life is slower when you cant go over 30 miles an hour.
When the car arrived a few minutes later, we climbed into the back seat , and, soon enough, a disembodied voice greeted us. The voice belonged to a tech support specialist asking if we needed help getting the ride going .
We declined the offer, pressed a big red button on one of the tablet computers in front of us and rolled forward at a law-abiding pace that seemed incredibly slow compared with the average Uber driver. An automated message warned us to keep our hands and arms inside the car at all times.
The ride was by turns spooky, impressive, perplexing and a little stressful. It was kind of like being in the car with my 16-year-old daughter when she was learning to drive but more unnerving because my daughter could at least respond to my moments of panic.
Softbank Delivers $135 Billion
Cruise also announced it received $1.35 billion from the Softbank Vision Fund. While this is technically new funding, this was part of the original plan the companies agreed to in 2018. In 2018, SoftBank Vision Fund invested $900 million in the GM-backed Cruise and planned to deliver another $1.35 billion when Cruise was ready to scale its service. Well, here we are.
In a blog, Vogt wrote that the new capital will help us expand our world-class team and quickly scale this technology across SF and into more communities.
About The Author
Steve Crowe is Editorial Director, Robotics, WTWH Media, and co-chair of the Robotics Summit & Expo. He joined WTWH Media in January 2018 after spending four-plus years as Managing Editor of Robotics Trends Media. He can be reached at
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It Will Test Vehicles In The Sunset District A Residential And Commercial Corridor On The Western Side Of The City
SAN FRANCISCO Following years of testing with a human backup driver at the helm, General Motors Cruise is launching fully driverless cars onto public streets in San Francisco, the most complex urban environment robocars have taken on to date, the company announced Wednesday.
The company said Wednesday it was deploying five self-driving vehicles in San Franciscos Sunset District, a residential and commercial corridor that encompasses many of the traits that make the city unique: densely packed streets, steep inclines and its trademark fog.
Cruise made the announcement in a conference call with its chief executive, Dan Ammann, Wednesday morning.
Cruise said it was confident enough to launch the driverless trials after five years of testing, including 2 million autonomous miles in San Francisco. The company is not the first to deploy self-driving cars without a human backup driver, and unlike competitor Waymo, which launched driverless ride-hailing in Arizona earlier this year, it will not initially be giving rides to the public.
Cruise spokesman Milin Mehta said the company began its driverless testing in November. The company, which aims to launch a fully electric, driverless ride-hailing service, said it plans to expand to other neighborhoods, as its permit encompasses the whole city. But the initial tests will not leave the driverless vehicle fully in control.
Cruise Driverless Cars Blocked Traffic For Hours Tuesday Night
As many as 20 vehicles were stuck on Gough St. for around two hours
The City says these incidents can last anywhere from a few minutes to multiple hours and that about a third of them include multiple Cruise vehicles idling at the same location. Sometimes, even a single stopped Cruise vehicle can block traffic in both directions, when it comes to rest at an odd angle in the road, according to the letter. The City worries these events could be even more disruptive with the Origin, which cannot be manually moved out of the way.
In some cases, 911 callers have reported human-driven cars making unsafe maneuvers, like driving on to the sidewalk, to get around a Cruise-induced road blockage. Buses have also been hemmed in by these travel lane failures, videos of recent incidents show. The City says that 68% of Cruises travel lane failures have occurred on streets with a bus or streetcar line, and more than 80% have occurred on streets considered part of the high-injury network, where most traffic accidents take place.
San Francisco believes these incidents reflect the simple reality that the Cruise AV automated driving system is still under development. We do not expect perfection, the letter reads. However, these incidents demonstrate that travel lane failures that block roadways should be considered a key performance indicator for driverless readiness.
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Driverless Taxis Are Now An Authentic And Innovative Business For Cruise
In San Francisco, you always see self-driving test cars with human safety drivers, and every now and again, completely driverless vehicles. But these vehicles always had safety drivers in them. Cruise’s first go into the self-driving vehicle sector was in 2021, when it offered a free taxis service to whoever signed up on Cruise. These rides covered close to 70 percent of the city.
The permit was the final hurdle that the brand had to go through in order to begin its operations in California. Cruise said it would launch paid services within the next couple of weeks. For the autonomous taxi service, Cruise will utilize up to 30 driverless Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles.
Justintv And Other Ventures
Vogt left MIT during his Junior year to take a job with the team that would go on to form Justin.tv and Twitch. A Co-Founder at , Vogt was later described as the “creative genius” at the start-up, who “hero-coded” the company out of problems and designed the camera systems necessary for live streaming. As reported in Fortune, according to Justin.tv co-founder , Vogt would “just, like, lock himself in a room for three days and code away and then emerge with something that worked.” Justin Kan’s younger brother and future co-founder of Cruise, Dan Kan, spent a summer interning at Justin.tv.
In June 2011, Vogt became co-founder at both and , both of which were acquired, Socialcam for $60 million and Twitch by Amazon in a deal for $970 million.
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Ai Makes Its Way To The 2022 World Cup
AI-powered cameras will be deployed to help referees decide whether football players are offside in the upcoming 2022 World Cup tournament to be held in Qatar starting in November.
The technology involves placing a sensor inside the football and a series of cameras under the roof of the stadiums. The sensor will monitor its position on the football field, and the footage from cameras will be fed into machine learning algorithms capable of tracking the players’ locations.
When the software detects a player is offside, an alert will be sent to people at a nearby control room. The information will be relayed to the referee, who will then decide whether to call the offence or not.
Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, said the automated system will allow referees to make “faster and more accurate decisions,” and said humans, not robots, were still in charge, according to The Verge. Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s current president, said the technology had been three years in the making and only takes seconds to call offside.
However There Are Some Restrictions
Certainly, turning this autonomous technology into a fully-fledged business, particularly in one of the largest cities in the United States, San Francisco, will be a turning point in the long and late journey to a driverless taxi technology. While Cruise is free to operate the driverless taxi services in San Francisco, the operations will be so tightly controlled. These cars will have a sluggish maximum speed of 30 miles per hour. The cars are only limited to roads that avoid downtown. Also, in its initial phase, the robotic taxis will only offer hauling services between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., ensuring that the roads are partially empty when the cars roam the streets.
In addition to being limited by locations and times of reduced traffic and fewer pedestrians on the roads, driverless cruise services are also not allowed to operate under heavy rain, snow, heavy fog, heavy smoke, or hail. And during its operating hours, Cruise can collect all the fares, but it wont carry passengers from different parties.
Race Ethnicity Religion And Languages
San Francisco has a population, as comprise less than half of the population, 41.9%, down from 92.5% in 1940.As of the 2020 census, the racial makeup and population of San Francisco included: 361,382 , 296,505 , 46,725 , 86,233 , 6,475 and , 3,476 and other and 73,169 persons of other races . There were 136,761 of any race .
In 2010, residents of constituted the largest single ethnic minority group in San Francisco at 21% of the population other large Asian groups include and , with , and many other Asian and Pacific Islander groups represented in the city.The population of Chinese ancestry is most heavily concentrated in Chinatown, , and , whereas are most concentrated in the , as well as in . The is home to a large portion of the city’s Vietnamese population as well as businesses and restaurants, which is known as the city’s Little Saigon.
The principal groups in the city were those of and ancestry. The Hispanic population is most heavily concentrated in the , Tenderloin District, and . The city’s percentage of Hispanic residents is less than half of that of the state.
Source: US Census and IPUMS USA
As of 2010, 55% of San Francisco residents spoke only at home, while 19% spoke a , 12% , 3% , and 2% . In total, 45% of San Francisco’s population spoke a language at home other than English.
Payne: Hailing A Driverless Cruise Robotaxi In The Streets Of San Francisco
San Francisco Like nocturnal animals, autonomous Cruise Chevy Bolt EVs start turning up on San Franciscos streets late at night. They even look like racoons with their masked headlights and ear-like LIDAR arrays sticking out the roof. But these raccoons arent foraging for food, they are looking for riders.
I summoned one using Cruises smartphone app and it scurried up to me curbside at Hotel Kabuki in the Japantown neighborhood. The Bolt is a cute creature, painted white and black with a red sash of paint around its hips. It even had a name: Firefly. Others in Cruises 80-car fleet have names like Willow, Fern, Rigatoni, Scampi, Crepe, Samosa, Tostada and Pride. The app unlocked the door, and my San Francisco friend, Elan, and I slid into the roomy back seat.
The robotaxis front seat was off limits, a plastic shield separating us from the drivers seat. But no one was at the wheel. After confirming our seatbelts were fastened on the seat-back screen, we tapped START and Firefly was off into the night.
The steering wheel spun this way and that as we negotiated the Golden Citys dark, hilly streets on the way to our destination: scenic Twin Peaks in the Noe Valley neighborhood near Elans home.
It is an industry still in its infancy, as I would find this night when the Cruise suddenly aborted its mission due to rain. But robot cars have made big strides in recent years.
Cruise is still walking before it can run, though.
Answer: Baker Beach
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What Should You Do If You Get In A Collision With A Driverless Car
Hint: Don’t just drive away
The Citys letter also raises concerns about Cruise cars ability to pull over to the curb to pick up passengers. Currently, Cruise vehicles primarily double park in the travel lane when picking up and dropping off passengers, The City claims. That practice could exacerbate the vehicles traffic impacts.
San Francisco officials have repeatedly raised concerns, directing the issues to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Public Utilities Commission, the state agencies that regulate autonomous vehicles.
San Francisco has no authority to regulate the autonomous vehicles on its streets, despite being the global epicenter of autonomous vehicle testing. In its letter, The City provided data to support this claim: Since NHTSA began tracking autonomous vehicle collisions nationwide in June 2021, two-thirds of those collisions took place in San Francisco.
The Citys biggest concern is incidents in which Cruise vehicles idle in the middle of the road for an extended period, or what it describes as travel lane failures. While Cruise has been authorized to test driverless autonomous vehicles since the summer of 2021, San Francisco saw a dramatic increase in reports of travel lane failures starting in the summer of 2022, when Cruise began its late-night driverless ride-hailing service.
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But at other times, Cruise showed more confidence. It consistently made smooth lane changes to get around double-parked or turning cars and generally seemed to time yellow lights well. It came to a complete stop at stop signs and steered clear of painted bus-only lanes.
My first ride went off without a hitch until the very end. Instead of taking me to the address I typed in the closest I could get to my apartment in the Castro while remaining within the service area Spider inexplicably took me up the hill to the edge of Buena Vista Park. This, it turned out, would not be the last time Cruise would pick me up or drop me off in the wrong place.
As I took more rides, it quickly became clear to me that Cruise wouldnt pick me up or drop me off everywhere within the service area. The cars simply wouldnt travel to certain addresses. A Cruise spokesperson declined to answer a specific question about this, saying only that the company balances numerous factors to optimize pickup and drop off.
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Valencia Bike Plan Hammered On Every Side
The new design illustrates the conflicting demands on city planners as SFMTA extends its network of protected bike lanes
In their letter on behalf of the entire city government, Tumlin and Chang stress that they neither support nor oppose the petition, but document safety hazards and street capacity issues raised by the operation of the Cruise AV on San Francisco streets. They go on to call for several specific regulations they would like to see imposed on Cruise and Argo AI from Ford, another company seeking to build and deploy a fully autonomous vehicle.
Those recommendations include stringent data reporting requirements and incident reports, limiting the geographic area and the number of vehicles that can be deployed in San Francisco, and enabling first responders to manually turn off the vehicles.
Tesla’s Head Of Ai Leading Autopilot Leaves
Andrej Karpathy, senior director of AI and an expert in computer vision helping Tesla develop self-driving cars, announced he was leaving after working at the company for five years.
It’s been a great pleasure to help Tesla towards its goals over the last 5 years and a difficult decision to part ways. In that time, Autopilot graduated from lane keeping to city streets and I look forward to seeing the exceptionally strong Autopilot team continue that momentum.
There were rumors Karpathy wasn’t going to come back after he said he was taking a four-month sabbatical earlier this year in March, according to Elektrek. Karpathy was hired to lead Tesla’s AI and self-driving efforts in 2017 and left his previous role as a research scientist at OpenAI.
Top boss Elon Musk thanked him for his service via a message on . Karpathy leaves at a dicey time for the company. Tesla’s share price has dropped amid worsening market conditions, and it has shut down one of its offices in San Mateo. It is also facing heightened scrutiny that could lead to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issuing a recall for hundreds of thousands of its cars.
Karpathy said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do next but will focus on “technical work in AI, open source and education.”
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