“San Francisco Freeway On-Ramp Blocked by 7 Waymo Robotaxis”

Seven Waymo robotaxis blocked traffic moving onto the Potrero Avenue 101 on-ramp in San Francisco on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m., according to video of the incident posted to Reddit and confirmation from Waymo. California regulators recently approved Waymo to operate its autonomous robotaxi service on San Francisco freeways without a human driver, but the company is still only testing on freeways with a human driver in the front seat. After hitting the road closure, the first Waymo vehicle in the lineup then pulled over out of the traffic lane that was blocked by cones, followed by six other Waymo robotaxis. It’s not the first time Waymo vehicles have caused a road blockage, but this is the first documented incident involving a freeway. In San Francisco, there must be a driver in the car in order to issue a citation.

Seven Waymo robotaxis caused a traffic disruption on Tuesday in San Francisco, according to a video posted on Reddit and confirmed by Waymo.

The incident occurred at 9:30 p.m. as the vehicles were returning to Waymo’s city depot for the evening. The first robotaxi in the lineup encountered a road closure with traffic cones, leaving the freeway as the only available path, according to a Waymo spokesperson.

While Waymo was recently approved to operate its autonomous robotaxi service without a human driver on San Francisco freeways, the company is currently only testing with a human driver in the front seat. Waymo stated that its main priority is to gradually and safely expand rider-only freeway operations in Arizona before moving forward in California.

After reaching the road closure, the lead Waymo vehicle pulled over out of the blocked traffic lane, followed by six other robotaxis. The presence of these stalled vehicles caused human-driven cars to become stuck behind them. A video shared online shows frustrated drivers exiting their vehicles to physically move the cones, allowing them to pass both the road closure and the stagnant Waymos.

Waymo quickly dispatched its Roadside Assistance team to manually retrieve the vehicles, with the entire process taking no longer than 30 minutes.

This is not the first time Waymo vehicles have caused a road blockage, but it is the first recorded incident on a freeway. Cruise, a subsidiary of GM specializing in autonomous vehicles, has faced criticism for multiple instances of its vehicles malfunctioning and causing blockages for first responders, public transit, and other drivers.

Of course, human drivers also contribute to traffic disruptions on a regular basis. However, city officials and first responders in San Francisco have expressed frustration with their inability to access and move robotaxis when necessary, as well as their inability to issue traffic citations to these vehicles. According to San Francisco regulations, a driver must be present in the car in order for a citation to be issued.

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Ava Patel

Ava Patel is a cultural critic and commentator with a focus on literature and the arts. She is known for her thought-provoking essays and reviews, and has a talent for bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation.

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