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San Francisco agency opposes Cruise robotaxi app, citing safety

A Cruise self-driving car, which is owned by General Motors Corp, is seen outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco where it does most of its testing, in California, U.S., September 26, 2018.  Picture taken on September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Heather Somerville

Dec. 1 (Reuters) – The San Francisco transit operator disputed a request by Cruise to charge for robotaxi rides, saying on Wednesday that promotional videos from the General Motors Co (GM.N) unit showed that cruise passengers illegally got on and off vehicles at the middle of the street rather than the curb.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) said in a 24-page letter that Cruise’s recent videos show the self-driving technology company to allow illegal behavior that also endangers people nearby and slows down. buses, agency director Jeff Tumlin said. The agency also lambasted Cruise’s demand for not scheduling service in low-income and minority neighborhoods or for accommodating wheelchairs.

“Together, the cruise videos document a total of 14 stops for the pickup or disembarkation of passengers; they provide evidence that none of these stops complied with the requirements of the Vehicle Code and the Transportation Code,” wrote the agency.

Cruise said he would address the concerns in a letter to the CPUC next Monday.

Cruise from GM, Alphabet Inc’s Waymo (GOOGL.O) and other companies see San Francisco as a good testing ground for robotaxi services. With the federal government slow to produce autonomous vehicle rules, states have stepped in to regulate. But local authorities in San Francisco and elsewhere have sought to have more say in new technologies, including Tesla Inc’s Autopilot (TSLA.O). Read more

The SFMTA letter responds to a cruise request last month to the California Public Utilities Commission, which has the final say on whether companies can charge for trips.

The SFMTA letter calls for denying Cruise’s claim unless it can prove that its automated systems can recognize legal street parking, parallel parking, and parking lot access.

The agency also criticized Cruise’s initial rollout plan for ignoring nearly all low-income and underprivileged communities in the city and serving just 19% of San Francisco’s Hispanic population and 24% of its black population. The company has yet to test wheelchair accessible travel, the agency wrote.

Additionally, Cruise said he would avoid streets with light rail lines, but did not recognize a long train ride in his intended service area, the SFMTA wrote.

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