Autonomous vehicle company Cruise is disputing the San Francisco Fire Department’s (SFFD) claims that its driverless vehicles delayed ambulance response time in an incident August 14th, which contributed to a pedestrian’s death.
SFFD alleges that their ambulance wasn’t able to respond to an emergency scene due to two Cruise autonomous vehicles blocking lanes at the accident scene, per KRON4. According to their account, as we previously covered, this delay ultimately contributed to the victim’s tragic passing after being struck by a human-driven vehicle at the intersection of Harrison and 7th streets.
As Forbes reported last week, SFFD records say that, “When we arrived at scene, the only open lanes for egress from the call were blocked by two Cruise vehicles that had stopped and were not moving or leaving the scene. We were unable to leave the scene initially due to the Cruise vehicles not moving. This delay, no matter how minimal, contributed to a poor patient outcome.”
But a company statement released by Cruise to KRON4 vehemently refutes SFFD's claims. They reportedly say that their autonomous vehicle fleet had responded appropriately to the emergency situation — that the first vehicle promptly cleared the area once the traffic light turned green, while the other AV stopped in the lane to yield to first responders who were directing traffic. Cruise also reportedly adds that SFFD’s accusations are “irresponsible to try to shift the blame for this tragic event toward our fleet.”
The autonomous vehicle company says it has been in ongoing communication with SFFD and other local municipal agencies, seeking to provide surveillance footage from their AVs on the night of August 14th to clarify the situation.
KRON4 says that it reviewed Cruise’s footage, but due to company policy, it conveniently can’t be shared.
The August 14 incident occurred a few days before the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued an order asking Cruise to reduce its fleet of AVs in San Francisco, on August 18.
Feature image via Unsplash/Remy Gieling.