A self-driving Cruise vehicle is accused of nearly hitting a 7 year old, prompting federal authorities to investigate a similar incident that occurred the day before
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is probing allegations that a driverless Cruise vehicle nearly collided with a seven-year-old boy and his family as they crossed the street in San Francisco last year, as per DMV records obtained.
According to Sascha Retailleau, who was walking with his wife and son in their Mission District neighborhood on the evening of August 14, the driverless Cruise car appeared to head directly towards them as they crossed 20th Street near the intersection of York Street. Retailleau stated, “[The car] was fully stopped, and then it started when he had gotten maybe a third of the way or halfway across the intersection. It started to accelerate towards us like we weren’t there.”
Retailleau recounted that the car veered as it approached, directly towards his young son Luke, who had to hurry ahead to avoid being struck. Retailleau later informed the DMV about the incident, although the DMV stated it could not provide any specifics regarding its ongoing investigation.
Seven-year-old Luke expressed feeling frightened, stating, “If I didn’t run, it would have hit me, probably.”
Another alarming incident occurred in the crosswalk the day after the reported near-miss incident. This time, it happened in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of the city and was captured on camera. The footage, shared on Reddit, depicts a Cruise vehicle accelerating directly toward two women and two children walking across the crosswalk. At the last moment, the vehicle brakes and swerves around them.
While Cruise acknowledged its vehicle’s involvement, it declined to provide further comment, citing an ongoing federal investigation into the matter.
Regarding the incident reported by Retailleau, Cruise stated that its records indicate none of its driverless cars passed through the specific intersection at the time Retailleau and his family were crossing the street.
“We have examined data and footage in response to this complaint, but thus far, we have not identified any Cruise driverless vehicles operating in the areas at the specified dates and times encountering pedestrians,” said Cruise spokesperson Erik Moser. “We are committed to operating with safety and transparency and are continuing to investigate this incident.”
Retailleau, a mechanical engineer experienced in building robots, maintains that what he witnessed that day was unmistakably a driverless Cruise vehicle with the company’s distinctive orange stripe.
“At first, we were frightened, and then I felt intense anger,” Retailleau remarked. “My child could have been injured or worse by this Cruise vehicle.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently looking into at least four incidents involving Cruise vehicles and pedestrians, including the one shared on Reddit.
“The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received reports of incidents where Automated Driving System (ADS) equipped vehicles operated by Cruise LLC (Cruise) may not have demonstrated proper caution around pedestrians on the road,” the agency stated in a summary of its investigation.