"Perfect! These are completely safe autonomous vehicles."
That was the reaction of one Austin cyclist to a Cruise self-driving car, without a person even in the vehicle, making a left turn into a cycle lane before continuing to travel in the infrastructure along the next stretch of road.
At the lights, once stopped, the rider pulls up alongside, revealing an empty vehicle — no driver, no passengers, just one autonomous self-driving car.
— Chris Walker (@WalkerATX) January 9, 2023
Currently operating in evenings and overnight in San Francisco, Austin and Phoenix, Cruise's driverless taxi service operates in much the same way as Uber (just without the human moving passengers from A to B), with people requesting a ride on an app, and the company's website insists "safety is our priority. Period."
Once Fox 7 got hold of this video, Cruise released a statement insisting again that safety is their number one priority and the company will be "reviewing our lane-mapping in that area".
Cruise also insisted the car would not have entered the bike lane if there had been a cyclist using it, but the rider involved — Robert Foster — says it seems "reckless" to allow cars making "egregious mistakes".
"They're driving like a lot of maybe less experienced drivers in Austin drive or when they take a left turn, they just do it extremely wide, not realising that's both illegal and very unsafe," he explained.
"That just seems so reckless for them to be allowing cars that can make not small mistakes, but egregious mistakes, missing a lane by 16 feet. You know, that just seems egregious out on the streets.
"This is a 4,000-pound vehicle that they're testing on the city streets. There's still enough error that I'd be very disappointed if someone I was teaching to drive was driving that way."
In reply Cruise commented: "Safety is Cruise's top priority, not just for our passengers but for everyone we share the road with. Our technology is always improving and we’ll be reviewing our lane-mapping in that area."
But Foster has not been impressed by his experiences riding around the driverless vehicles and says he has seen another driving down the middle of the road, and that they are adding to an already dangerous existence for cyclists and pedestrians.
A little under a year ago we reported two instances of YouTubers capturing footage of their Tesla vehicles in Full Self-Driving Beta (FSD) struggling to avoid danger.
The first came just weeks after Elon Musk had claimed FSD had not been responsible for a single collision since its release in October 2020 and saw the vehicle crash into a cycle lane bollard. Earlier in the nine minute video the vehicle ran a red light.
Then, days later a second YouTuber uploaded a video of their Tesla in FSD almost ramming a cyclist in San Francisco.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.