General Motors’ self-driving division Cruise is recalling hundreds of vehicles after a highly publicised accident resulted in a critical injured pedestrian.
In a notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Cruise is recalling 950 driverless cars from the roads across the United States and warned it would likely issue more recalls.
“Cruise LLC (Cruise) is recalling a subsystem within the Automated Driving Systems (ADS),” the filing states. “The Collision Detection Subsystem may improperly cause the vehicle to attempt to move to the side of the road after a crash.”
In October, a pedestrian was struck by vehicle driven by a hit-and-run driver, who fled the scene.
The pedestrian was flung into the path of the Cruise robotaxi, and the unfortunate person was then dragged beneath the robotaxi for 20 feet (6 metres) as it pulled over to the side of the road.
The critically injured female pedestrian was pinned beneath its rear wheels and had to be extracted from under the robotaxi with the help of the “jaws of life” by the Fire Department, before being taken to San Francisco General Hospital with “multiple traumatic injuries.”
Following the accident, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced that it had suspended Cruise’s robotaxi permit “effective immediately.”
Cruise later halted its operations nationwide, after California regulators suspended the robotaxi operator’s license.
It came just two months after another state regulator, the Public Utilities Commission, had approved an expansion that authorised around-the-clock rides (from both Cruise and Waymo) throughout San Francisco – the second most dense city in the US.
However that move had been opposed by transportation and safety agencies, such as the police and fire departments, as well as many residents, because of concerns about erratic driving and interference with their operations.
The robotaxi service operated by Waymo continues its operation in the city.
Now Cruise is recalling 950 robotaxis, although the safety term is misleading as the GM division is issuing an over-the-air software update and not carrying out a physical recall of the vehicles.
The cars are being recalled because the collision detection subsystem of the Cruise Automated Driving Systems (ADS) software may respond improperly after a crash.
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.
In a statement Wednesday, the GM unit said that it did the recall even though it determined that a similar crash with a risk of serious injury could happen again every 10 million to 100 million miles without the update.
Cruise is reportedly 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 has operations in Phoenix, Arizona; Houston, Austin and Dallas in Texas; and Miami, Florida.
It is reportedly conducting a search to hire a chief safety officer, and has hired law firm Quinn Emanuel to conduct an outside review of its response to the crash.
Cruise has also appointed a third-party engineering firm to find the technical cause, and adopt company-wide “pillars” to focus on safety and transparency.