Nov 8, 2023 - Economy

General Motors recalls 950 Cruise driverless vehicles after serious collision

People travel with a Cruise driverless robot taxi in San Francisco in July 2023. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Getty Images

General Motors recalled 950 Cruise driverless vehicles on Wednesday as they've come under scrutiny for crash response and prevention.

Why it matters: The recall comes after the fully autonomous vehicles were banned in San Francisco in October following a pedestrian crash.

  • The company said it will update collision response software as a result of the crash.
  • GM will also address situations where the cars inappropriately pull over out of traffic during post-collision responses, rather than remaining stationary.

Context: On Oct. 2, a person was gravely injured in San Francisco after being dragged underneath a Cruise car, according to a report filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • Video footage previously viewed by Axios showed the pedestrian in the crosswalk being struck by a human-driven car, then bouncing off that car's windshield into the path of the robotaxi.
  • In a statement at the time, Cruise said its robotaxi "braked aggressively to minimize the impact" but was unable to stop before rolling over the woman and coming to a halt.

Threat level: A collision with risk of serious injury from the collision detection system could occur every 10 million to 100 million miles of driving, per Cruise.

  • Prediction is the most challenging component of an autonomous vehicle, which lacks human instincts.

The big picture: General Motors largely funded electric vehicles and autonomy, both of which have now had issues.

  • The company abandoned its target of producing 400,000 EVs because of slowing demand, manufacturing bottlenecks and profit concerns.
  • The company said on Wednesday that it is hiring a chief safety officer, who will report directly to the CEO.
  • An engineering firm will also be conducting a technical root cause analysis of the early October pedestrian crash.

Go deeper: Driverless cars may need to drive more like humans

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