Software update to address cause of San Francisco crash
By Lina Fisher, 4:15PM, Thu. Nov. 9, 2023
After General Motors’ self-driving car company Cruise suspended operations nationwide on Oct. 27 after facing a federal investigation into its cars’ safety, it announced this week that it’s recalling all of its remaining 950 vehicles for a software problem.
That problem led to one of the company’s most harrowing crashes in San Francisco last month.
In a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Cruise described how the software responds to a crash: “In many cases, the AV will pull over out of traffic. In other cases, it will stop and remain stationary. The specific post-collision response depends on the characteristics of the collision, such as the other road actors involved in the incident, the location of impact (e.g., frontal or side), and the perceived severity.” It goes on to describe that the Cruise car may attempt to pull over out of traffic instead of remaining still, which “could occur after a collision with a pedestrian positioned low on the ground in path of the AV.” Indeed it did: On Oct. 2 on Market Street, a human-driven car crashed into a pedestrian who fell into the path of the Cruise. The Cruise inaccurately categorized this as a lateral collision and tried to pull over, dragging the woman, who then had to be lifted out from under the car with the jaws of life (a hydraulic rescue tool).
Cruise’s decision to pause operations on Oct. 27 came a day after they determined that a collision “with a risk of serious injury could recur” with this specific software every 10 million-100 million miles of driving on average, though the stated reason for the pause was “in hopes of adding transparency to the public’s understanding of this singular incident.”
Importantly, Cruise cars operated by human drivers are still on the roads – a remedy to the glitch has already been installed in those vehicles.
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