Cruise robotaxis face NHTSA investigation over pedestrian safety concerns

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General Motors’ self-driving unit, Cruise, is facing an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over concerns that the company’s self-driving robotaxis may not have used appropriate caution when operating around pedestrians. The NHTSA’s investigation into Cruise was opened on Monday. 

The agency noted that it had received reports suggesting that vehicles equipped with autonomous driving systems have encroached on pedestrians that are present in or entering roadways, including crosswalks. The NHTSA stated that this could result in severe injuries or perhaps even fatalities. 

The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) stated that it had received reports of two pedestrian injuries that involved a Cruise robotaxi. The ODI noted that the total number of relevant pedestrian incidents related to Cruise robotaxis remains unknown, though the office also identified two more incidents from videos that have been posted on public websites

In a statement, Cruise spokesperson Hannah Lindow highlighted that the company’s safety record remains stellar. The spokesperson also stated that Cruise communicates regularly with the NHTSA about matters involving safety. 

“Cruise’s safety record over 5 million miles continues to outperform comparable human drivers at a time when pedestrian injuries and deaths are at an all-time high. Cruise communicates regularly with NHTSA and has consistently cooperated with each of NHTSA’s requests for information –– whether associated with an investigation or not –– and we plan to continue doing so,” Lindow said. 

As per the ODI, the investigation into Cruise is being opened to help determine the scope and severity of potential issues surrounding the company’s vehicles. These may include causal factors that could be related to ADS driving policies and performance around pedestrians. 

Cruise’s robotaxis have been involved in a number of incidents over the past months. In August, Cruise agreed to reduce its fleet by 50% in San Francisco after authorities investigated two crashes in the city. More recently, a Cruise robotaxi also ran over a pedestrian who was initially hit by a human driver. 

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Cruise robotaxis face NHTSA investigation over pedestrian safety concerns
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