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San Francisco's Telegraph neighborhood seeing robotaxis struggle to navigate area

Robotaxis having trouble navigating San Francisco's Telegraph neighborhood
Robotaxis having trouble navigating San Francisco's Telegraph neighborhood 03:10

Rosemary Desena has lived in San Francisco's Telegraph neighborhood for decades and has seen a surge of robotaxis lately.

"We have a main thoroughfare and a lot of small streets that feed into it with a lot of weird directional five-way streets," said Desena. 

She chooses to walk when she can and is acutely aware of her surroundings lately with more robotaxis passing by.

"I've noticed a lot of driverless cars getting stuck," said Desena. 

Bryan Culbertson, who was visiting Coit Tower nearby, recorded and posted a video of a Waymo getting stuck at the turnaround on Greenwich Street.

He declined to be interviewed on camera. 

Residents know the tight turn at the dead-end can present some issues.  

"This turnaround is hard for everybody because they don't know that it's a turnaround," said Desena. 

Ahmed Banafa is a professor of engineering at San Jose State. 

"People are using them. That's why you're hearing of more problems because you discover new scenarios they never thought about," said Banafa.  

Banafa believes each hiccup is a chance for Waymo to improve its product, and acknowledge imperfections along the way. 

"The company should be upfront about it, fix it; we know what's wrong with this scenario. We fixed it and it's not going to happen again," said Banafa. 

Despite the latest bump in the road, Banafa believes SB 915, a bill that would give local governments authority over where robotaxis can be deployed, would create a nightmare: where an autonomous vehicle would be allowed in one city and then stopped at the border of the next city that might not allow AVs.  

Residents like Eileen Aicardi have witnessed stranded Waymos too.  

"I have seen Waymo cars come in and come in with too sharp of an angle, stop, and not know what to do," said Aicardi. 

But she also sees the upside of driverless taxis, like for her daughter in-law who takes late night trips as a nurse. 

"I didn't have to deal with a driver I didn't know and getting into a foreign car. I just got in, said where I was going, and it took me there very smoothly," said Aicardi. 

This pedestrian crossing a street in North Beach, shook her head in disbelief as the Waymo rightfully stopped and turned, after the path cleared. 

"My modus operandi is to wait for those cars to pass in traffic before I make my move crossing as a pedestrian," said Desena. 

Some are very comfortable with the white robotaxis expanding across the Bay Area.   

Rosemary Desena is cautious. 

CBS News Bay Area reached out to Waymo about the stranded AVs but have not yet heard back with any comment.

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