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Cruise robotaxi hits dog on San Francisco street

A screenshot of a video shows a Cruise self-driving taxi allegedly blocking emergency responders including San Francisco Police during the aftermath of a mass shooting incident in the Mission District in San Francisco on June 9, 2023. | Courtesy Paul Valdez

An unmanned Cruise autonomous vehicle hit a dog in San Francisco on Thursday. The company confirmed the incident after the dog's owner posted about it on social media.

It comes a week after it was reported that a Waymo robotaxi driving in autonomous mode hit and killed a small dog in the city.

“A [Cruise] driverless car just hit my sweet black lab in the crosswalk of Clay and Baker,” dog owner Janie Richardson wrote on the social media platform Nextdoor. “If we don't have enough to worry about living in this city now we are defenseless against this very dangerous computer.”

Cruise said it is investigating the incident and that an off-leash dog ran through an intersection as the vehicle moved through it. The company has no reports of an injury and said the dog was active at the scene. The dog owner said the animal was fine in the comments of her Nextdoor post.

“I happened to be around to witness this one,” wrote Reddit user SnooOwls3524 in a post about the incident. “The dog was not even on a leash and it barely tapped the car.”

Robotaxis have caused uproar in recent weeks as political wrangling over their regulation increases and incidents on the city’s roads hit the headlines.

After a mass shooting in the Mission injured nine, a Cruise robotaxi stalled a block from the crime scene and was said to be in the way of first responders, according to a police officer caught on video by Paul Valdez, a witness who posted the footage to Twitter. In the video, the police officer could be seen and heard shouting at the robotaxi to move away. Police officials later said the robotaxi was not blocking first responder access.

"All of a sudden, there were cops, fire engines and ambulances heading down Folsom toward 24th," said Paul Valdez, who recorded the incident. "The Cruise car just stopped on Folsom. An officer got out of his car and started pounding on the window, yelling at the car to get off the street and get out of the way."

A San Francisco police officer tells a Cruise robotaxi it is blocking first responder access near the scene of a mass shooting on June 9. | Courtesy Paul Valdez

Robotaxis can’t be cited for reckless driving, but San Francisco officials are now trying to change that.

Alphabet’s Waymo and its competitor, General Motors' Cruise, are rolling to a relatively smooth approval by the California Public Utilities Commission to operate their robotaxis 24 hours a day in San Francisco.

READ MORE: San Francisco Officials Make Last-Ditch Effort To Block Robotaxi Deployment

But on May 31, city officials pushed back on Waymo’s deployment in a last-ditch effort to oppose robotaxis.

Monthly reported incidents involving Waymo driverless operations have increased six-fold this year, including instances where they interfered with emergency services, according to a comment letter from San Francisco officials. City data also says that reported incidents involving driverless Waymo and Cruise vehicles more than tripled from 24 to 87 between January and April.

Draft resolutions released by the state utilities commission in May deflected many of the concerns raised by San Francisco officials, who have cited issues including unplanned stops that obstructed traffic or interfered with public transit or emergency services

The utilities commission is slated to vote on whether to allow 24/7 robotaxi service in San Francisco on June 29.

Joe Burn can be reached at