San Francisco cruise crash prompts recall of 80 self-driving vehicles

UNITED STATES – An autonomous vehicle created by Cruise, a self-driving arm of General Motors Co., has crashed into another car in San Francisco, prompting the recall of 80 other vehicles. A person driving the car was arrested on suspicion of impaired driving. The algorithm that controls Cruise’s cars is said to be able to count pedestrians and cyclists and detect steel guardrails.

The crash happened near Mission and Sixth in San Francisco around 1:45 a.m. on September 14. The other vehicle reportedly drove south, while Cruise’s car was heading north. No injuries were reported, but both cars were damaged.

A spokesperson for Cruise said, “This morning, an employee of our development fleet suffered a personal accident in a self-driving vehicle,” according to Bloomberg Technology. The spokesperson stressed that “security is our main concern. None of the passengers were injured. The vehicle was immediately removed from service.

Cruise, established in early 2017, has been developing autonomous vehicles since 2015. The company has invested approximately $1 billion in its autonomous vehicle hardware and software with the goal of eliminating driverless vehicle crashes. Cruise has also committed $100 million in funding and is working with Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., on an undisclosed project. According to Matthew J. Quinlan, a San Francisco-based attorney, “while driverless technology is well intentioned, we are seeing an increase in self-driving vehicle crashes as a result of testing in the region.”

“We are reviewing the matter and can confirm that the cars were on a public road and were not part of a private test or event,” a spokesperson for Cruise said.

Previous General Motors recalls

GM’s recalls have been the subject of lawsuits in the past. GM was sued in May 2018 after recalling allegedly defective vehicles. The lawsuit claimed GM had to recall more than a million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches, which can cause cars to stop while driving.

According to Reuters, Cruise’s spokesperson said, “GM did not notify federal authorities of the crash and did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Police and company officials are investigating.

The California Vehicle Code states that a driver cannot be held liable for damages if their car is driven without anyone behind the wheel. This law is called the “Safe Harbor Act” and protects automakers from lawsuits. The law was created to incentivize self-driving automakers to test their technology on public roads by taking some responsibility away from them.

Other driverless car accidents in the news

Self-driving cars have only been on the market for a few years and have yet to see their accident toll cleared. In February 2017, a Tesla car was involved in an accident in Utah. The car was traveling at 37mph when it collided with the trailer of an 18-wheeler, causing the two cars to collide at high speed. No injuries were reported and Tesla was not sued for any damages. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash to determine what caused the vehicle to crash.

In May, a man was killed while parking his truck in front of a self-driving Uber car. The car traveled 40 miles per hour, which is considered to be within the speed limit by California law. A human driver at the controls of the vehicle attempted to collapse but could not avoid hitting the driver’s side of the truck. The Uber car carrying its passengers was not involved in the accident.

In February, an autonomous vehicle in Arizona hit a pedestrian named Elaine Herzberg. Herzberg had been called to pick up food from a place of order but never arrived on the scene and ended up being hit by a self-driving car instead. The incident happened after she entered the street without looking at all the traffic around her and started crossing a crosswalk without stopping at the crosswalk button. The self-driving car was not at fault as it was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting Herzberg. Herzberg died of her injuries and the driver of the self-driving car.

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