Cruise, the autonomous vehicle venture owned by General Motors, has issued a recall effecting 950 of its robotaxis following a pedestrian collision in San Francisco last month. It was October of 2023 when Cruise lost its permits to operate driverless vehicles in California without a human safety driver on board. The permit to operate driverless cars was recalled following an October collision in which a pedestrian was thrown into the path of the Cruise robotaxi by a human driver in a different car who hit her first.
In the October 2023 crash The Cruise vehicle braked before impact and attempted to pull to the side of the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) filing. Prior statements from General Motors say the Cruise vehicle drug the pedestrian forward about 20 feet. It was this crash that led to a federal probe. The crash along with Cruise’s disclosures around the crash forced the hands of California regulators and they stripped the company of their permits to operate driverless vehicles in the state without a human safety driver aboard.
Google owned rival Waymo has been allowed to continue operating driverless fleets in California among other states. The NHTSA filing on November 7, 2023 reveals that Cruise found defects within its automated driving system software, specifically pertaining to its “Collision Detection Subsystem.” Cruise wrote in the filing to the federal vehicle safety agency: “In certain circumstances, a collision may occur, after which the Collision Detection Subsystem may cause the Cruise AV to attempt to pull over out of traffic instead of remaining stationary when a pullover is not the desired post-collision response. This issue could occur after a collision with a pedestrian positioned low on the ground in the path of the AV.”
In a blog post on November 8, 2023, officials from Cruise said along with implementing the voluntary recall, the company is now conducting a search to hire a chief safety officer. We feel this step is long overdue. Louise Zhang, vice president of safety and systems at Cruise, is serving as interim chief safety officer, overseeing the company’s safety reviews and investigations per the company statement. Cruise initiated third-party reviews of the Oct. 2 incident.
Cruise has lost all permits to operate in California and is facing backlash over safety concerns which we feel are long overdue. Cruise has also temporarily suspended production of its Cruise Origin driverless vans. Cruise and GM had planned to produce a low volume of these autonomous shuttles in Detroit. Unveiled in 2020, the Origin has no steering wheel or acceleration pedal, and seats six passengers. GM said the company has lost almost $2 billion on Cruise between January and September this year alone.
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