Cruise pulls all self-driving cars from public roads after accident

SAN FRANCISCO: In a dent to automotive industry aspirations for a revolution in mobility, Cruise has suspended all its self-driving car journeys on public roads in response to an accident involving a pedestrian in San Francisco.

The company, which belongs to car giant General Motors, announced on Tuesday that the move was to regain trust while investigations are carried out. Previously, only the operation of cars without people at the wheel had been stopped.

In an accident that took place in early October, a Cruise driverless car dragged a woman several metres. The pedestrian was hit by another vehicle with a person at the wheel and thrown in front of the self-driving car.

According to the accident report, the robotaxi braked immediately — but the woman still fell under the vehicle.

The Cruise cars are programmed so that in some cases they automatically pull over to the side of the road after collisions so as not to obstruct traffic.

In this case, the software also decided to do this — even though the woman was still under the car. She was dragged around six metres and the car reached a speed of 11kph according to a report by the Californian traffic authority.

Cruise has since changed the software for its 950 vehicles to prevent the situation from happening again. Test drives for around 70 cars with people at the wheel have now also been suspended.

Last year, San Francisco became a unique test case for self-driving taxis. In addition to Cruise, Google's sister company Waymo also received permission from a Californian supervisory authority in the summer to expand its driverless transport services throughout the city.

The city council and numerous residents were against this. Among other problems, they argued that the vehicles often blocked traffic.

Although self-driving cars have been trialled as far back as 2015, analysts believe they are unlikely to be widely rolled out as autonomous taxis for general use before 2035.
Autos News