Downtown Austin commission gets updates on self-driving cars, calls for more safety

Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Voight has announced that he is stepping down from the company’s leadership. He made the announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday night.

Voight’s resignation comes less than a month after Cruz halted self-driving car operations across the country, including here in Austin.

RELATED| The public reacted to Cruise’s suspension from unmanned fleet operations

As there are other autonomous vehicles operating in the city, CBS Austin’s Paige Hubbard attended a briefing the downtown commission received Monday night. Commissioners heard how the city is working to regulate operations while offering some suggestions of their own.

Talk of how the city of Austin could hold autonomous vehicle operators accountable came up during Monday’s Downtown Commission meeting.

“Under Texas law, citing an autonomous vehicle means issuing the citation to its owner. The owner in Cruise’s case is in San Francisco,” said Rachel Castignoli of the City of Austin’s Department of Transportation and Public Works.

Rachel Castignoli of the City of Austin’s Department of Transportation and Public Works says that because of this law, Austin is working with the Texas Department of Transportation and other cities with AVs on the road to come up with one set of rules for issuing traffic violations.

“We have to develop a special process to ensure proper service. Probably to a registered agent is something we discussed,” Castignoli said.

At the time, Ossin Arts Commissioner Amy Mock raised safety concerns.

“So in the meantime, we don’t have a good system to hold them accountable. Is that the fact?” asked Arts Commissioner Amy Mock. “Yes, we do not currently have a citation process as there is no driver in the vehicle. But I believe we can legitimately cite them,” Castignoli said. “That’s the difference between what we can do and

“I don’t know how we are in this situation. That there are not enough safety measures in place for the citizens before this AV company comes into town and does business with the town.

A state law passed in 2017 stripped local municipalities of the power to regulate robo-taxis. As a solution, the city created an AV safety task force in July of this year. The team collects data to identify hot spots and common problems. But in order to get certain data – AV companies must be willing to offer the information.

“Have you ever asked AV for data and they come back and say ‘no,'” asked Transport and Council Liaison Commissioner Spencer Schumacher.

“We asked to watch video and they refused,” Castignoli said.

With Cruise out of business, Waymo, ADMT Volkswagen and AV Ride are still operating on Austin roads. And as technology advances, commissioners say they will continue to fight to keep citizens safe.

“I appreciate the briefing by Rachel Castignoli of CoA Transportation and Public Works. Overall, I’m excited about the investment in autonomous vehicles from various national businesses, it adds to the variety of transit options and reduces reliance on single-seat vehicles – a key goal in Austin’s Strategic Mobility Plan,” said Center Commissioner Jen Weaver .


AV companies have no way for the public to communicate with them about near-collision incidents – so the city of Austin, and perhaps all cities, record these incidents and report back to the companies. If the goal was direct communication and building relationships with consumers, the public, this process would not succeed. Second, there is a mismatch between rights and responsibility. Autonomous vehicles have the privilege of driving on the roads, but there is no system in place for penalties, from tickets to criminal charges such as manslaughter.

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