On June 28, the streets of San Francisco came to a standstill as self-driving Chevrolet Bolts driven by Cruise, GM’s driverless company, sat motionless at red lights and in the middle of sidewalks. The cars had no drivers and trapped both people in traffic and passengers in the vehicles. So what happened?
Leading sunk deep due to the malfunctions of self-driving cars in San Francisco and found that the June 28 incident was not the first time cruise cars had accidentally stopped driving:
The crash on June 28 was not Cruz’s first. According to internal documents reviewed by WIRED, the company lost communication with its entire fleet for 20 minutes on the evening of May 18 while its vehicles were parked outside. Company officials were unable to see where the vehicles were located or contact the passengers inside. Worst of all, the company was unable to access its system, which allows remote operators to safely guide stalled vehicles to the side of the road.
A letter anonymously sent by a Cruise employee to the California Public Utilities Commission that month, reviewed by WIRED, alleged that the company “regularly” loses contact with its self-driving cars, blocking traffic and potentially impeding ambulances. Vehicles can sometimes only be lifted by a tow truck, the letter said. Images and videos were published on social networks Maybe and June to show cruise vehicles stopping in San Francisco traffic lanes would seem counterintuitive as the city’s pedestrians and motorists drive around them.
Cruise has been operating in the city since 2015, when its self-driving cars still required a driver behind the wheel. This year, Cruise is working in over 70 percent of the city with hand-picked public beta testers who can optionally summon a driverless cruise between 10pm and 6am and only when the weather is clear (San Francisco isn’t known for its fog… right?) .
Cars stop dead after lconnecting to a Cruise server isn’t just a bad look for Cruise— it may also disqualify them from the drone game altogether. From Leading:
Losing communication with the vehicles, especially with back-up safety systems, could void Cruise’s permit to operate in California, said Bryant Walker Smith, an associate professor at the South Carolina School of Law who studies autonomous vehicles. California’s DMV program, which regulates self-driving cars, requires the operator of the vehicle to prove there is a link that allows for “two-way communication” between the vehicle, including its occupants, and an employee remotely controlling the robot’s movements. However, like autonomous cars themselves, the rules designed to apply to vehicles have not been tested in all possible scenarios.
Cruise did not respond to specific questions about his clearances. Neither the California DMV nor the CPUC said how the blackout incidents might affect Cruise’s permits. The CPUC did not say whether it responded to the anonymous letter from the Cruise employee or considered its content before approving the company’s permit. Regardless of Cruise’s legal obligations, Walker Smith says self-driving car companies need to be open and transparent about what’s going on. on public roads. “From the public’s point of view, when vehicles do something wrong or strange, the company — the ‘driver’ — has to explain it.”
so far the stalled vehicles caused no injuries or accidents, just a lot of inconvenience. How long this luck will last, who’s to say? The whole story is a disturbing and fascinating look at where one of the most successful self-driving car companies stands today, and it’s well worth your time. you can be found here.