Some low-income families in San Francisco are getting meals delivered to their homes by autonomous vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic. Cruise, the General Motors subsidiary developing self-driving technology, has used its fleet of test vehicles to help food banks hand out more than 3,700 meals in eight days, The Verge reported last week.
The effort not only aids the food banks in achieving their mission, it allows Cruise to continue testing its technology on public streets during a time when the vehicles would otherwise be forced to stay parked under the city's shelter-in-place order banning nonessential travel.
Lenore Estrada, executive director of SF New Deal, said Cruise has freed up volunteers to do other work, including distributing personal protective equipment and seeking more funding.
"The support Cruise has provided has been crucial in allowing us to expand our services," Estrada said in a statement from Cruise.
Each vehicle is required to have two backup drivers, despite social distancing guidelines calling for people to stay at least 6 feet apart. Cruise said the delivery program is voluntary and that workers, third-party contractors, can opt out.
The city is "aware of what we're doing and supports the effort," Cruise said in a statement.
Nuro, a robot delivery startup, also is helping out during the crisis, delivering medical supplies to two Bay Area field hospitals via private roads and without human backup drivers.