Cruise disputes claim that its autonomous vehicle delayed
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San Francisco Fire Department claims that one of Cruise’s autonomous vehicles delayed an ambulance after a deadly accident, a claim Cruise denies. 

On Aug. 14, a driver hit a pedestrian in the city around 11 p.m. Emergency medical services had a hard time getting to the scene because two Cruise taxis blocked the road. 

According to SF Fire, the pedestrian died as a result of that blockage. 

This delay, no matter how minimal, contributed to a poor patient outcome… It is unacceptable that Cruise autonomous vehicles continue to block ingress to critical 911 calls.”

However, Cruise disputes that narrative. Videos from those AVs show a different story, according to a company spokesperson. 

As soon as the light turns green, the first vehicle leaves the area and the second stops in the lane to yield to first responders. As long as the AV is stopped, traffic remains unblocked and flowing to the right. As other vehicles, including the ambulance, passed the AV, the ambulance had a clear path to pass the AV. Once the victim was loaded into the ambulance, the ambulance left the scene immediately and was never hindered by the AV.”

He refused to share the video, claiming it was proprietary.

However, NBC Bay Area was able to review a nearly 13-minute video which purportedly depicts the incident. The video appears to show what the company describes, including the ambulance squeezing past the stopped Cruise car. 

Four days before the incident, the California Public Utilities Commission approved Cruise and Waymo’s expansions, allowing them to operate AVs at all hours in San Francisco. 

Supervisor Aaron Peskin has criticized the move. Peskin told NBC Bay Area that more than 70 documented instances of AVs interfering with first responders have been documented since Aug. 14. 

“In those cases, seconds and minutes can make the difference between life and death,” he said. It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s a question of ‘when.'”

Peskin wants the state to regulate the emerging AV industry more. Later this month, the city plans to meet with legislators and DMV leadership.