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Waymo vs. Cruise: Which robotaxis crashed more in San Francisco?

A composite image of Waymo, left, and Cruise, right, autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. Waymo and Cruise’s self-driving cars are one of three robotaxi services offered in San Francisco.
A composite image shows robotaxis from Waymo, left, and Cruise, right, operating in San Francisco. | Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Isaac Ceja/The Standard

Waymo robotaxis reported 35 more crashes in San Francisco than Cruise since the beginning of 2022, according to publicly available reports from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. But Cruise had far more incidents involving injuries.

Waymo and Cruise reported 103 and 68 collisions in San Francisco since Jan. 1, 2022, according to the latest records available from the DMV. The firms must report all collision incidents to the DMV, the California Public Utilities Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of regulatory requirements.

In 2022, both companies began offering driverless taxi services to the public through a limited-access program that required users to have an invite-only access code.

Three self-driving Cruise vehicles are disabled by cones in San Francisco in July 2023. | Source: Courtesy Safe Street Rebel

Although Waymo recorded more crashes, Cruise had a worse record in terms of injuries. Of Cruise’s 68 collision reports, 14 involved injuries, meaning that around 20% of the company’s crash incidents since 2022 involved injuries. Of those collisions, five required emergency medics to be called to the scene, with the most serious being an incident in which a cyclist crashed into the rear window of the robotaxi as the Cruise braked going downhill. The cyclist was taken away from the scene by medics.

The vast majority of crash incidents Cruise reported to regulators involved a situation in which the Cruise car was not at fault because it was legally stopped, rear-ended or had the right of way, according to a company spokesperson.

Waymo recorded just two incidents in which injuries were reported in the same period. 

READ MORE: San Francisco Robotaxis: Amazon-Owned Company’s Cars Crashed 39 Times

The steering wheel of an autonomous Waymo vehicle is seen operating in San Francisco. | Source: Mike Kuba/The Standard

In many cases, it is the passengers or test drivers riding in the driverless vehicles who sustain injuries. Waymo studies say 55% of crashes are due to human drivers hitting their stationary vehicles.

The crashes include any incident in which an autonomous vehicle comes into contact with an object or a person, be it another vehicle, a biker, scooter, pedestrian, road barriers or debris. The collisions may have occurred when the vehicle was either in autonomous (driverless) or manual mode (meaning there was a human operator behind the wheel).

Companies must report everything from a minor fender bender—such as one that causes no damage to either car and normally would not be reported to the police—to incidents like deflating a tire in a pothole.

Waymo’s higher crash numbers may also be because its vehicles drive more miles than those of other robotaxi companies, a Waymo spokesperson said.

Both Cruise and Waymo cleared the last regulatory hurdle toward full driverless deployment at a California Public Utilities Commission hearing in August that allowed both companies to charge for 24/7 driverless rides throughout the city, despite heavy protest from activists and taxi drivers. The state told Cruise to cut its fleet in half after a crash with a fire truck injured a passenger.