"There was no driver and no passenger in the car to be able to tell us what happened."

In Undertow

A woman was found trapped and injured underneath a driverless car — but the autonomous vehicle (AV) doesn't seem to be the one to hit her.

As CNN reports, footage provided by Cruise, the self-driving car company that operated the vehicle in question, shows that the woman had been hit by a car being driven by a human, but it's unclear whether the AV rolled over her or if she merely landed underneath it.

In the video, which neither CNN nor Cruise has published, the woman is said to have crossed a pedestrian crosswalk when the cars had the right of way, subsequently being struck by the human-operated car, which was to the right of the AV.

She then, per the report's recounting, flipped over the human-driven car's roof, rolled, and landed on the pavement in front of the self-driving car. The driverless vehicle's brakes engaged as soon as the woman landed in front of it, but because she apparently fell out of the cameras' range, it's unclear whether its tires rolled over her or if she somehow ended up underneath its undercarriage.

In a statement, Cruise told CNN that its footage proves that the woman had been "severely" struck by a "human-driven" car. As an official from the San Francisco Fire Department pointed out, the driverless-ness makes for a very strange case indeed.

"There was no driver and no passenger in the car to be able to tell us what happened," Justin Schorr, the SFFD spokesperson, told CNN. "It’s a very unique type of response for San Francisco."

Car Wars

Schorr acknowledged that Cruise responded "very swiftly" and that the telemetric data, alongside the AV's camera footage of the incident, will be helpful in the investigation as the woman recovers from her injuries that he described as "life-threatening."

Cruise operators were instructed by first responders not to move the car when they arrived so as not to further injure the woman, who was freed after the fire department deployed a machine it calls the "jaws of life" to lift the self-driving car off her.

As SFFD Lieutenant Mariano Elias affirmed to the news outlet, this is the first such incident the city has experienced, though it's far from the first time an autonomous vehicle has caused trouble in the city by the bay.

Indeed, as the department told CNN, there have been at least 83 incidents this year — including one collision between an AV and a fire truck — where driverless cars impeded the department in some way. There's no way to know how many times people have been injured by AVs because, as CNN explained, the fire department doesn't track those numbers.

Since their introduction to the streets of SF, self-driving cars seem to have been nothing but a headache — although, as this situation shows, sometimes in totally unexpected ways.

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