AUSTIN, Texas — A new driverless rideshare, Cruise LLC, was seen driving in the wrong lane multiple times over the weekend. It's a rideshare company similar to Uber, except there's no human driver.
"I love biking around Austin," said cyclist Robert Foster.
So do many others, especially downtown and in West Campus.
"I'm out on my bike at least an hour a day," Foster said.
On Thursday night, Foster saw something unsettling while biking on 26th Street near the University of Texas.
"So, I was a little shocked last week when I started seeing them completely driverless, not a single human in the car," Foster said.
A self-driving car is a bit surprising in itself, but how the newly introduced Cruise autonomous car was driving made Foster start recording.
(Warning: The video below contains strong language.)
In his video, the car can be seen making a wide turn into the bike lane and continuing on that path.
"Sure enough, a few minutes later, another one made the turn and it went straight into the bike lane again," Foster said. "Then another one turned and went straight into the bike lane."
Another KVUE viewer sent a similar video from downtown on Sunday. But this time, the self-driving car struggled to pick a lane.
"One-time mistakes happen with driving, but this seems to be something that the cars are systemically doing," Foster said. "Them testing it on the roads when they're performing this way, it's frightening."
Last week, KVUE spoke with the vice president of ride-hail at Cruise, Megan Pritchard.
"Ultimately, this technology is designed to improve the lives and the safety of citizens," Pritchard said.
In early September, Cruise started testing its driverless vehicles on Austin's roads with an actual driver. It wasn't until late December 2022 that the company said it began allowing cars to drive unsupervised.
A spokesperson said they do not plan to change that but instead will open the rideshare to the public soon.
"But the streets aren't the safest," Foster said. "We're slowly improving things around here in Austin, but it's not ready for self-driving cars that are going to be driving into bike lanes."
According to City data, more pedestrians and cyclists were killed or seriously injured in crashes in 2022 than in any recorded year.
Last year, Cruise LLC recalled and updated 80 of its vehicles, citing accident risks.
"It's heartbreaking incidents," Pritchard said.
Cruise is currently under federal investigation after multiple reports of the vehicles blocking roadways, stopping abruptly and causing crashes.
"Seems like a very hitting dangerous combination," Foster said. "I don't think they hit their goal in making the streets safer."
A Cruise spokesperson said during this pilot program that the driverless cars are only operating downtown and Central Austin for family and friends of the company overnight, Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 p.m. until 5:30 a.m.
These unsupervised drives started near campus when UT students were on break. Monday was the students' first day back.
Cruise shared the following statement with KVUE:
"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're reviewing our lane-mapping in that area."