U.S. opens probe into GM Cruise autonomous driving system

WASHINGTON – U.S. motor vehicle safety regulators announced Friday that they have launched a formal safety review of the self-driving system in vehicles produced by Cruise LLC, the robotaxi division of General Motors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it had received notice of an incident in which a vehicle driven by Cruise “could improperly brake hard or become stuck.”

The agency said both issues “seem to be different, but each results in cruise vehicles making unexpected road obstacles.” and is the first step before seeking a recall.

The investigation follows reports of three crashes in which a cruise car was hit from behind by another vehicle after a self-driving car braked hard.

Cruise has limited service in San Francisco and uses a small number of Chevrolet Volt EVs.

Cruise has traveled approximately 700,000 miles in fully automated driving in a highly complex urban environment with zero life-threatening injuries or deaths….with sound regulatory scrutiny and the ability to save lives. There is always a balance between the innovation we desperately need to save, and that is why we will continue to work fully with NHTSA and other regulators to achieve that common goal. ”

NHTSA plans to fully evaluate the potential safety-related issues posed by these two types of accidents, and will focus on “Commonality and Safety Logic of Hard Braking Incidents” and “Frequency and Safety Logic Related to Fixed Vehicle Accidents”. period, and safety results.” .”

Last month, Cruise’s chief operating officer, Gil West, told Reuters the company plans to enter “many markets” and expand to “thousands of vehicles” by 2023. Told.

NHTSA said the issue “could pose multiple potential hazards, including colliding with cruise vehicles, the risk of stranded passengers from stationary cruise vehicles, and obstructing other traffic, including emergency vehicles.” says.

The agency said there were three reports that the cruise car’s autonomous driving system “initiated a hard braking maneuver in response to another road user approaching rapidly from behind.” vehicle. “

Cruz said police did not ticket their vehicles in any of the three crashes.

NHTSA said it has been notified of multiple reports of cruise cars being stuck operating without human supervision. “This could cause vehicle passengers to get stuck in dangerous areas such as lanes and intersections, creating unexpected obstacles for other road users,” it said.

In September, Cruise recalled and updated the software in 80 self-driving cars after June’s San Francisco crash that injured two people. NHTSA said the recalled software could “mispredict” the path of oncoming traffic. Cruise said it determined that this anomalous scenario would not recur after the update.

GM and Cruise said in February that they had applied to NHTSA for permission to introduce self-driving cars without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals and wipers. That petition is still pending.

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