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Cruise says a hit-and-run ‘launched’ pedestrian in front of one of its robotaxis

Cruise says a hit-and-run ‘launched’ pedestrian in front of one of its robotaxis


The incident is the latest to involve a driverless vehicle in San Francisco, where hundreds of robotaxis are operating commercially 24/7.

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A Cruise driverless vehicle in San Francisco
Photo by Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A hit-and-run in San Francisco last night ended with a pedestrian “stuck” under a Cruise autonomous vehicle. Police are investigating whether a human-driven vehicle may have been involved in the crash.

The driver struck a female pedestrian, throwing her in the path of a Cruise robotaxi that was operating autonomously. The Cruise vehicle then braked, with its rear tire still on top of the woman’s leg, fire officials told NBC. After Cruise disabled the vehicle, rescuers were able to get the vehicle off the woman’s leg using the jaws of life, NBC reports.

While the investigation is ongoing, Cruise put out a series of statements on X (formerly Twitter) to explain its role in the crash. The pedestrian was “launched” in front of a Cruise robotaxi after being struck by a vehicle that was traveling in the lane to the left, the company said. The robotaxi “braked aggressively to minimize impact,” while the driver of the other vehicle fled the scene. The condition of the struck pedestrian is unknown at this time, police said.

The crash was the latest in San Francisco to involve a driverless vehicle, as hundreds more have hit the road recently for 24/7 commercial service. With more robotaxis have also come a number of crashes, most of which have been minor, though a handful have involved injuries.

The crash was the latest in San Francisco to involve a driverless vehicle

A spokesperson with the San Francisco Police Department sent this statement:

On 10/02/23 at approximately 9:31 pm officers responded to 5th and Market Streets regarding a vehicle collision involving a pedestrian. Officers arrived on scene and discovered an autonomous vehicle struck an adult pedestrian. Officers rendered aid and summoned medics to the scene and transported the pedestrian to the hospital. The medical condition of the pedestrian is unknown at this time. The autonomous vehicle remained on scene and did not have an occupant at the time of the collision. The operator of the autonomous vehicle is cooperating with the investigation. We believe that another vehicle that was not an autonomous vehicle may have been initially involved in the collision, but the vehicle or driver were not present at the scene during our investigation. The SFPD Traffic Collision Investigations Unit is leading the investigation and is looking into the factors that lead to this collision. Anyone with information is asked to contact SFPD at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.

At the scene of any vehicle collision, we document what occurred by gathering evidence. This evidence includes the location of the vehicle and/or vehicles before, during and after the collision, which is why the vehicle was kept in its stationary position.

According to Cruise, “a human-driven vehicle struck a pedestrian while traveling in the lane immediately to the left of a Cruise AV. The initial impact was severe and launched the pedestrian directly in front of the AV.”

“The AV then braked aggressively to minimize the impact,” the company continued. “The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene, and at the request of the police the AV was kept in place.”

Cruise says it is “actively working with police to help identify the responsible driver,” including sharing video footage from its vehicle’s cameras with police, spokesperson Aaron Mclear said in an email. A spokesperson from the San Francisco Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The crash incident has yet to be filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which requires all AV companies to report collisions.

In August, a Cruise robotaxi collided with a fire truck, injuring one passenger. In response, the company reduced the number of vehicles it had deployed by half while the city investigated the incident.

City officials, including transit, police, and fire departments, have expressed serious concerns about driverless vehicles intruding on emergency scenes, blocking intersections, and obstructing emergency vehicles. They have also been involved in a number of minor fender benders and rear-end collisions that have some residents worried about escalation as more are deployed.

Update October 3rd 9:23AM ET: Updated to include details from local news reports.

Update October 3rd 12:22PM ET: Updated to include a statement from SFPD.