Driverless cars stop traffic on Austin streets, company responds

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two autonomous vehicles blocked lanes of traffic Friday night. The company that owns them said the vehicles stopped as a safety measure.

Cruise, a rideshare and delivery company, responded to KXAN’s inquiry about the cars. One vehicle was stopped in a lane of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and another was stopped near the intersection of West 15th Street and Trinity Street.

A Cruise spokesperson said when the driverless cars are uncertain of the safest way to proceed, they will pull over and turn on their hazard lights.

In a statement, the company said there are Remote Assistance advisors who monitor and occasionally assist vehicles in incidents like this.

 “Within our dedicated team who continuously monitor and assist our driverless fleet, our Remote Assistance (RA) advisors are available in instances when the AV needs help navigating a situation. RA advisors have access to live data from the vehicle and by connecting remotely to the vehicle, they can suggest a pathway that allows the vehicle to proceed. We’re working to minimize how often this happens, but it is and will remain one aspect of our overall safety operations.

Cruise spokesperson

Local motorists react to stopped AVs

Robert Waters rides his motorcycle around Austin in an effort to save money on gas, he said.

“In my truck, I’d spend probably three times more,” Waters said.

Waters said sharing the road with cars that already have a driver can occasionally get dicey. He said he’s unsure about making room for autonomous vehicles.

“It’s a little scary because it’s hard enough for them to see us, you know, regular people driving cars. So somebody’s not driving, it could go either way,” Waters said.

City says it does not regulate driverless cars

KXAN reached out to the City of Austin’s mobility department about these stopped vehicles.

The city said while it offers knowledge to companies like Cruise that operate AVs, the state regulates the vehicles.

“The City has worked with autonomous vehicle companies in the past as they enter the Austin market to offer staff’s knowledge on the local transportation network, but the City does not oversee or regulate AVs,” a city spokesperson said.


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