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Autonomous Vehicles Are Getting within the Method of Emergency Responders in San Francisco: Report

Autonomous Vehicles are not The Great. And yet we keep trying, mainly because there is a lot of money behind it. In the Bay Area, this has led to some predictable consequences, according to the news outlet Mission Local reports that San Francisco police and first responders are dealing with malfunctioning driverless cars that get in the way during emergencies or cause traffic problems. Incident reports show that quite a lot is happening.

In case you missed it:

reports Received from Mission Local, detailing issues local responders have encountered with driverless vehicles from Waymo and Cruise, both of which have permits to test on city streets. In 15 separate incidents, autonomous cars either failed, causing a traffic problem, or got in the way of a situation where officers and first responders tried to get the car moving.

In one incident That happened on April 25, a fire truck responded to a call. The fire engine turned onto a narrow street that was too narrow for two vehicles to pass at the same time. According to the report, a Waymo autonomous car was approaching from the opposite direction. As the fire truck approached, instead of coming by for the first responder like it should have, it did something else: It continued to approach the fire truck until it was less than 10 feet from it. And then it just stopped. Firefighters had to get out of the truck, approach the car and speak to the vehicle’s monitor to tell it to move. The monitor replied that he understood the situation, but apparently the car was not responding to commands. The fire truck had to drive down the street and drive around.

Other incident From the end of January, a driverless car had to get closer to the scene of the fire where a fire was being fought. According to the report, the vehicle kept approaching, so close that firefighters at the scene thought the car would run over the hoses and hinder the firefighting effort. So a firefighter took matters into his own hands to stop the car.

I yelled twice for the car to stop and banged my fist on the hood. After warning the car twice, I smashed the window and the vehicle stopped. Thank you very much.

While many of these incidents read like something out of a movie, the reality isn’t as entertaining. Lots of cops and first responders Mission Local spoke to do not want the cars on the city streets. But driverless cars are federally regulated, with support from the city that says the local government doesn’t have much say. In the meantime, responders must bypass them or hope they don’t get in their way. Or even better, let the vehicles recognize emergency situations and react accordingly, as one firefighter emphasized in a report. “The need for these vehicles to see a road closed by caution tape and warning sandwich boards,” the firefighter said, “is imperative.”

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