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California halts Cruise autonomous vehicle trials
- November 6, 2023
- Steve Rogerson
California has suspended Cruise’s driverless permit after an autonomous vehicle dragged a woman for around six metres following a collision.
The decision only affects General Motors subsidiary Cruise’s licence for fully autonomous vehicles and not its licence to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver.
The decision follows an incident in October in San Francisco when a Cruise AV was stopped at a red light. A Nissan Sentra was in the next lane. When the lights changed, the pedestrian crossed the road against a red light and was struck by the Nissan throwing the pedestrian into the path of the Cruise AV, which braked but still hit the pedestrian.
The AV detected the collision and stopped. It then tried to pull over to avoid blocking the road and dragged the pedestrian for about six metres. She is believed to be still in hospital with serious injuries.
A statement from Cruise said: “Shortly after the incident, our team proactively shared information with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), California Public Utilities Commision and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including the full video, and have stayed in close contact with regulators to answer their questions.”
Nevertheless, the California DMV suspended Cruise’s autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits, effective immediately.
“The DMV has provided Cruise with the steps needed to apply to reinstate its suspended permits, which the DMV will not approve until the company has fulfilled the requirements to the department’s satisfaction,” said a DMV (www.dmv.ca.gov) statement. “This decision does not impact the company’s permit for testing with a safety driver.”
The Cruise statement added: “This incident will be included in future suites of simulation tests to allow the vehicle to better determine if it should pull over safely or stay in place, and to validate that the AV’s behaviour remains safe and reasonable. We aim to continuously learn and improve AV behaviour, and in developing new simulation tests and rare scenarios, we can assess multiple variations of this type of incident and increase the robustness of the AV’s response.”
The AV, said Cruise (getcruise.com), responded to the pedestrian deflected into it path within 460ms, faster than most human drivers, and braked aggressively to reduce the impact.
The driver of the Nissan is believed to have fled the scene.