GM's Cruise recalling 950 driverless cars after crash involving pedestrian

Plans to fix software after halting operations, federal accident investigations

GM Cruise vehicles off the streets in Austin, Texas. (Getty Images)


WASHINGTON — Cruise is recalling 950 driverless cars from the roads across the United States following a crash involving one of its robotaxis, and will likely issue more recalls, General Motors' self-driving unit said.

The cars are being recalled because the collision detection subsystem of the Cruise Automated Driving Systems (ADS) software may respond improperly after a crash, according to a notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Wednesday.

Last month, a pedestrian in San Francisco was struck by a hit-and-run driver and thrown into an adjacent lane, and was hit a second time by a Cruise robotaxi that was not able to stop in time. The Cruise then followed its programming to pull over to the side of the road, and dragged the pedestrian 20 feet.

The recall addresses circumstances in which the collision detection subsystem may cause the Cruise AV to attempt to pull over out of traffic instead of remaining stationary "when a pullover is not the desired post-collision response," Cruise said.

Cruise said last month it would halt operations nationwide after California regulators suspended the robotaxi operator's license — the state officials calling the self-driving vehicles a risk to the public. The company on Monday said it plans to temporarily halt production of its fully autonomous Cruise Origin, a different model than the robotaxis currently on the road. The Origin has no steering wheel or other controls for a human driver.

Cruise said it determined "a similar collision with a risk of serious injury could have recurred every 10 million to 100 million miles of driving on average prior to the software update" but said it strives to continually improve.

"As our software improves, it is likely we will file additional recalls to inform both NHTSA and the public of updates to enhance safety across our fleet," Cruise said.

Cruise is facing two federal investigations over the safety of its cars, including two incidents where the robot cars appeared not to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Cruise — which has operations in Phoenix, Arizona; Houston, Austin and Dallas in Texas; and Miami, Florida — is in a race with Alphabet's Waymo unit and others to bring robot cars to the market.

Cruise is conducting a search to hire a chief safety officer and has hired law firm Quinn Emanuel to conduct an outside review of the company's actions in light of the federal investigations. 

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