General Motors has issued a recall of its self-driving Cruise vehicles after a severe accident involving a pedestrian in October.
A total of 950 autonomous vehicles (AVs) have been flagged for a mandatory software update due to a flaw found in its driverless software that left someone critically injured.
Cruise AVs had been successfully transporting passengers without human drivers throughout San Francisco. However, on October 2, an unfortunate saga of events revealed an error in the software’s collision detection subsystem.
“In the incident, a human-driven vehicle traveling adjacent to a Cruise AV collided with a pedestrian, propelling the pedestrian across their vehicle and onto the ground in the immediate path of the AV,” the recall report issued by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) read.
The AV collided with the pedestrian despite veering right and braking hard. Yet the software incorrectly flagged the accident as a lateral collision, triggering a command for the AV to navigate itself out of traffic and pull over. This essentially led to the pedestrian being pulled under the AV and dragged 20 feet. The individual ended up pinned under one of the AV’s tires and seriously injured.
Noting that the chances of such an incident occurring a second time were minuscule, GM said in a statement that its decision to recall the Cruise fleet was “to make these events even rarer,” per the Associated Press.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles pulled Cruise’s license to operate in the state while GM ordered a pause of all its driverless operations until further notice, according to its website.
Despite several hiccups, AVs and self-driving trucks are being increasingly rolled out across the country.
For instance, as covered in The Dallas Express, Dallas highways have become a leading testing ground for freight companies seeking to test and develop driverless technologies.
Pittsburgh-based company Aurora Innovation is increasing the number of its self-driving trucks passing along I-45 between Dallas and Houston to about 100 a week by the end of this year in its pilot launch. After these tests, the full commercial rollout will occur in early 2024.