General Motors’ (GM) Cruise, a self-driving car company, has agreed to half its fleet of robotaxis in San Francisco, after two crashes in the city.
A reduction request came from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after a self-driving Cruise vehicle collided with an emergency vehicle on 17 July.
“Cruise has agreed to a 50% reduction and will have no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day and 150 driverless vehicles in operation at night,” said the DMV.
The incident follows California regulators allowing Cruise and Google spinoff Waymo to operate autonomous vehicles (AVs) throughout San Francisco at all hours, despite safety worries from recurring problems with unexpected stops and erratic behaviour from vehicles.
Last Thursday evening [17 July], the robotaxi passed a green light, entered an intersection and was hit by the emergency vehicle responding to a call, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, based on tweets from Cruise.
The report revealed that the robotaxi was carrying a passenger, who was taken by ambulance to a hospital with injuries that were not severe.
Also on Thursday night, another incident involving a Cruise car occurred: the vehicle, without a passenger, collided with another vehicle in San Francisco.
Greg Dietrerich, general manager at Cruise’s San Francisco Market, commented on the investigation of the incident: “The AV positively identified the emergency vehicle almost immediately as it came into view, which is consistent with our underlying safety design and expectation.”
He continued to explain that at the intersection, visibility is occluded by buildings, making it difficult to see objects around a corner until they are very close to the intersection.
The Cruise vehicle identified the risk of a crash and braked, reducing its speed, but couldn’t avoid the collision, he wrote.
“We realise that we’ll always encounter challenging situations, which is why continuous improvement is central to our work,” Dietrerich added.
The company will work with regulators and city departments to reduce the likelihood of a crash happening again, according to a Cruise spokesperson.
In a statement to The Associated Press, the DMV outlined that they are “investigating recent concerning incidents involving Cruise vehicles in San Francisco”.
The DMV said the fleet reduction will remain until its investigation ends and Cruise takes corrective action to improve safety.