October 6, 2023
GM’s Cruise recalls 950 Robotaxis After Pedestrian Collision

A San Francisco pedestrian was struck by two cars Monday evening and one of them didn’t have a driver. The first collision was from a hit-and-run driver and that pushed the victim into the path of a driverless Cruise robotaxi. This is when the driverless car ran the victim over according a statement from Cruise. Multiple publications reported viewing video of the incident provided by the company.

Cruise issued a statement that read in part a “human-driven vehicle struck a pedestrian while traveling in the lane immediately to the left of a Cruise AV,” and the impact “launched the pedestrian” in front of the Cruise robotaxi, which “braked aggressively to minimize the impact.” San Francisco firefighters at the scene used the jaws of life to lift the autonomous vehicle off the woman who was then transported to the hospital.

Cruise believes another vehicle, not an autonomous vehicle, may have been initially involved in the collision, but the vehicle or driver were present at the scene during our investigation, the SFPD told Insider. The Cruise vehicle stayed at the scene after the incident but the absence of a driver and a passenger who could serve as a witness is complicating the investigation.

“Because of the nature of the autonomous vehicles there’s no driver to speak with, and in this case, there were no passengers inside the vehicle when rescuers arrived,” Justin Schorr, SFFD rescue captain said in a video interview. “There were also no witnesses on the street. All we know is that the victim was found beneath the vehicle and rescued.” There was, however, video of the incident recorded from the vehicle’s cameras, multiple outlets reported. The SF Chronicle said it had viewed the footage, which it said showed the woman in the middle of a crosswalk while both the Cruise vehicle and the other car had a green light.

Cruise has been operating fully driverless vehicles in San Francisco since early 2022 and received approval from the city in August 2023 to expand their services and offer fully driverless rides around the clock going forward. At the time of the city’s approval Cruise operated about 300 vehicles at night and 100 during the day, Insider previously reported. Those numbers were soon reduced by 50% to 150 vehicles in operation at night 50 vehicles during the day as a result of two separate collisions involving Cruise’s vehicles.
Several previous incidents involving Cruise’s autonomous taxis over the past year make it appear the technology is not ready for full approval. In August, a Cruise AV with no passengers drove into wet concrete at a construction site and got stuck. A number of Cruise cars stalled in San Francisco and caused a traffic jam. There were also reports in June of a Cruise vehicle blocking emergency vehicles on their way to respond to a mass shooting. In January, firefighters had to smash the front windshield of one of Cruise’s cars to stop the vehicle from running over their hoses.

We have written about this technology and the potential threat to both drivers and pedestrians. There is a push from several municipalities to approve driverless cars as a safe and reliable form of transportation. Reports like this and others bring such widespread approval into question.

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