Electrek reported that last Saturday night, at least 20 Cruise EV “robotaxis” slammed into the same crossing near West Campus, forcing all vehicles to stop. This caused a short delay in traffic near the University of Texas at Austin campus.
At one point, a Cruise “robotaxi” that was sent to the area got stuck while turning at an intersection, blocking traffic going in three different directions. Adding to the standstill were the other Cruise “robotaxis” that arrived in the area to meet the elevated demand that followed Saturday’s UT Austin football game.
According to Cruise, because there were only limited routes to head north and south through the city, a detour led all the “robotaxis” to the same intersection simultaneously, making it impossible for Cruise to manually reroute them fast enough.
The company worked to fix the problem as soon as it learned about the traffic jam, and its “robotaxis” were able to leave the area on their own.
Nico Prada, a civil engineering student at UT Austin, recorded the traffic jam on his cell phone. He told KXAN that many people were trying to leave the West Campus at the same time because it was a Saturday night after a home game. He also said that the area was full of “drunk college students” who needed a ride.
One of the videos of Saturday’s driverless traffic jam caught the attention of Zo Qadri, a member of Austin’s City Council.
Qadri said while the concept of driverless EV taxis is good, it isn’t yet “ready for prime time.” He said the last thing he wants to see is a pedestrian or cyclist getting struck and injured by one of Cruise’s “robotaxis.” Qadri said he and his fellow city councilors on the Austin Mobility Committee plan to address the issue next month.
In a statement to KXAN, Cruise said that the accident happened in a “crowded, challenging environment.” He also said that no one was hurt on foot and that no other cars or property were damaged. The company said it has taken “proactive measures to relieve the crowding in the area.”