California authorities have asked General Motors to “immediately” take some of its robot taxis off the road after the self-driving vehicles were involved in two accidents – one with an active fire truck – last week in San Francisco.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed to CNN that it is investigating “recent incidents involving cruise vehicles in San Francisco.”
“DMV is in contact with Cruise and law enforcement officials to determine the facts and has requested that Cruise immediately reduce its active fleet of operating vehicles by 50% until the investigation is complete and Cruise takes appropriate corrective action to improve road safety,” it said in a statement.
That means Cruise, a self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, can operate no more than 50 self-driving cars during the day and 150 at night, according to the department.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles said Cruz agreed to the request, and a Cruz spokesperson told CNN that the company is investigating the fire truck crash as well.
The incidents come less than two weeks after California regulators officially gave permission green light for Cruise and competitor Waymo to charge for robot-taxi rides around San Francisco at any time of the day. Prior to approval, Cruise was only allowed to offer rides from self-driving cars overnight from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., when there would be fewer pedestrians or traffic that could overwhelm the self-driving car software.
The two collisions, which occurred on Thursday, reveal the potential dangers of self-driving technology.
in blog postCruise’s general manager in San Francisco said the fire engine accident occurred when an emergency vehicle that appeared to be on its way to the emergency location moved into an oncoming lane at a red light. The blog post said Cruise’s self-driving car identified the danger, but was “ultimately unable to avoid collision.”
This incident led to the transfer of one of the passengers to the hospital via ambulance due to what appeared to be minor injuries, according to the company.
Cruz told CNN that the other incident occurred on Thursday when another car ran a red light “at a high speed.”
“The AV detected the car and braked but the other car made contact with our vehicle. There were no occupants in our vehicle, and the driver of the other vehicle was treated and released at the scene,” Cruise spokeswoman Hannah Lindo told CNN.
It’s not clear if the two crashes could have been avoided had there been a human driver instead of an autonomous vehicle (AV) — but the crashes weren’t the only crashes involving driverless Cruise vehicles in San Francisco last week.
On Tuesday, Cruz Certain On X, formerly Twitter, one of its self-driving taxis drove into a construction zone and stopped in wet concrete.
“This vehicle has already been recovered and we are in contact with the city about this,” the company said.
Recent events highlight the challenges of creating fully driverless and safe passenger cars.
General Motors acquired Cruise Automation in 2016 for $1 billion, cementing its position in the self-driving car race, but many companies have since scaled back or abandoned their ambitions for self-driving cars. This has proven to be a costly endeavor, and getting control of all situations that humans might encounter behind the wheel is difficult and time consuming.
Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft have sold self-driving vehicle units in recent years. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has been optimistic about self-driving vehicle technology, has yet to fully deliver on his promise.
Tesla cars now come with the option to add “full self-driving” in beta testing for $15,000, but drivers must Approves To stay alert, keep your hands on the wheel at all times and maintain control of your vehicle.
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