Cruise Recalls 950 Robotaxis Following Pedestrian Collision
Cruise, the autonomous vehicle venture owned by General Motors, has issued a recall affecting 950 of its robotaxis after a pedestrian collision in San Francisco last month. The incident prompted Cruise to ground all of its driverless operations. The collision occurred when a pedestrian was hit by a human driver in another car, causing her to be thrown into the path of the Cruise robotaxi. The autonomous vehicle braked aggressively and attempted to pull over to the side of the road, but in the process, it dragged the pedestrian forward about 20 feet.
Regulatory Consequences and Rival Operations
The October 2 collision triggered a federal probe and led California regulators to revoke Cruise's permits to operate driverless vehicles in the state, unless there is a human safety driver present. In contrast, rival Waymo, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, continues to operate its driverless fleets in California and beyond.
Defects in Automated Driving System Software
According to a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on November 7, Cruise discovered defects in its automated driving system software, specifically related to its "Collision Detection Subsystem." The filing states that after a collision with a pedestrian positioned low on the ground, the Collision Detection Subsystem may cause the Cruise AV to attempt to pull over out of traffic instead of remaining stationary, which is not the desired post-collision response.
Safety Measures and Third-Party Reviews
In response to the incident, Cruise has implemented a voluntary recall and is actively searching for a Chief Safety Officer. Louise Zhang, VP of Safety & Systems at Cruise, is currently serving as the Interim Chief Safety Officer. The company has also initiated third-party reviews of the collision, enlisting the services of law firm Quinn Emanuel, known for its work with Tesla and Elon Musk, and engineering consultants Exponent.
Temporary Suspension of Cruise Origin Production
Following the loss of permits in California and concerns over safety, Cruise temporarily halted production of its Cruise Origin driverless vans. The company had planned to produce a limited volume of these autonomous shuttles in Detroit. The Cruise Origin, unveiled in 2020, features no steering wheel or acceleration pedal and can accommodate six passengers.
In conclusion, Cruise's recall of 950 robotaxis and the subsequent regulatory consequences highlight the challenges faced by autonomous vehicle ventures in ensuring safety and addressing potential software defects. The incident has prompted the company to take significant measures, including the search for a Chief Safety Officer and third-party reviews. The temporary suspension of Cruise Origin production and the financial losses incurred by General Motors underscore the impact of safety concerns on the business.
Impact of Cruise's Robotaxis Recall on Emerging Autonomous Vehicle Ventures
The recent recall of 950 robotaxis by Cruise, General Motors' autonomous vehicle venture, following a pedestrian collision, provides crucial insights for new businesses in the autonomous vehicle industry. The incident underlines the importance of safety measures, regulatory compliance, and the potential implications of software defects.
Regulatory Compliance and Market Competition
The regulatory consequences faced by Cruise, including the revocation of permits to operate driverless vehicles in California, emphasize the need for new businesses to ensure strict compliance with regulations. The continued operation of rival Waymo's driverless fleets serves as a stark contrast, highlighting the competitive landscape of the industry.
Software Defects and Business Strategy
The defects discovered in Cruise's automated driving system software underline the importance of rigorous testing and quality assurance for new businesses in the autonomous vehicle sector. This incident serves as a reminder of the potential impact of software defects on operations and reputation.
Safety Measures and Organizational Structure
Cruise's response to the incident, including the implementation of a voluntary recall and the active search for a Chief Safety Officer, underscores the significance of safety measures and the need for dedicated safety roles within the organizational structure.
Production Suspension and Financial Implications
The temporary suspension of Cruise Origin production and the financial losses incurred by General Motors highlight the potential financial implications of safety concerns. For new businesses, this underlines the importance of risk management and contingency planning.
In light of these developments, new businesses in the autonomous vehicle industry can learn valuable lessons from Cruise's experience. Ensuring regulatory compliance, addressing software defects, prioritizing safety measures, and managing risks are all crucial considerations for success in this rapidly evolving industry.