The crash occurred after a left-turning cruise robo-taxis stopped at an intersection because it thought an oncoming vehicle was going to turn ahead. However, the oncoming vehicle went straight ahead and collided with the cruise vehicle. Both the San Francisco Police Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have launched investigations.
Cruz said the oncoming vehicle was in the right turn lane and was driving “about 40 miles” in the 25 mph lane before exiting the lane and moving forward. In its recall filing, Cruise admitted that its robo-taxis were not “responsive enough.” Cruise spokeswoman Hannah Lindow declined to comment on what the cruise car could have done differently and declined to release a video of the crash.
Nevertheless, Cruise said in a statement that the recall was made “for transparency to the public.”
In a document detailing the recall, Cruise said it has already issued a software update that improves the robotaxi’s ability to predict what other vehicles will do, including in situations similar to collisions.
Bryant Walker-Smith, a University of South Carolina law school professor who studies self-driving cars, told CNN Business: “It’s a credit to the company that they treated this particular safety-related update as a recall under federal law.”
Cruise continued to operate a robo-taxis service in San Francisco after the crash. But at some point after the crash, which Cruise didn’t disclose, it disabled the vehicle’s ability to make an unprotected left turn, reducing the area over which the robo-taxis would operate. Cruise has been gradually reintroducing unprotected left turns since a software update on July 6th.
Developing and operating a robo-taxis is extremely difficult and expensive. In addition to GM, Cruise has added shareholders including Honda, Microsoft and Walmart. According to GM’s financial statements, Cruise lost $500 million in the second quarter of this year.
“The way to get from point A to point B is going to be a huge part because it’s safer,” Barra told Fox Business.
NHTSA does not have performance standards for fully autonomous vehicles like the Cruise, but it says it will recall them if necessary.