A Cruise robotaxi was involved in a serious accident on Monday night in San Francisco after it ran over a pedestrian who had been struck by another vehicle first and thrown in front of the self-driving car.
The woman is hospitalised in critical condition after being hit by a human-driven vehicle when crossing a street and then run over by the driverless taxi, which stopped on top of her as she screamed in pain, according to witnesses and investigators.
Footage of the shocking crash was shown to the San Francisco Chronicle by Cruise hours after the incident and it reportedly showed that the pedestrian was walking through the intersection just as the robotaxi and the other car got the green traffic light to enter the intersection.
In a statement posted on its X (formerly Twitter) account, the General Motors-owned company said the woman was in the crosswalk, although the San Francisco Police Department said it could not immediately confirm that information.
"At approximately 9:30 pm on October 2, a human-driven vehicle struck a pedestrian while travelling 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," reads Cruise's statement.
"The AV then braked aggressively to minimise the impact. The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene, and at the request of the police the AV was kept in place. Our heartfelt concern and focus is the wellbeing of the person who was injured and we are actively working with police to help identify the responsible driver."
A witness at the scene told investigators that he saw the other car cause the woman to fall over in the street and the robotaxi to strike her, according to video taken at the scene and posted live on social media by FiscoLive415.
Another witness saw the woman trapped underneath the Chevrolet Bolt EV-based Cruise car and heard her screaming. The witness tried to comfort her as they waited for first-responders.
San Francisco firefighters used the jaws of life to lift the car off the woman, who was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with "multiple traumatic injuries," according to SFFD Captain Justin Schorr.
Once the Cruise car sensed something underneath its rear axle, it stopped and turned on its hazard lights, Schorr said, adding that firefighters obstructed the sensors of the driverless car to alert the Cruise control centre. As a result, representatives from Cruise responded to firefighters and "immediately disabled the car remotely."
As you probably know, General Motors-owned Cruise has been involved in multiple incidents in recent months, culminating in an August 17 collision with a San Francisco fire truck that had its emergency lights on. This accident led to a request from the California DMV for Cruise to trim its fleet to no more than 50 vehicles during the day and 150 during the night.
It remains to be seen if this latest incident, the most serious so far, will have consequences for GM's self-driving car unit.