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Cruise recall reveals safety challenges for driverless cars

Nov 13, 2023

Cruise, a division of General Motors (GM) dedicated to self-driving cars, is recalling 950 driverless vehicles across the United States, a move that underscores the ongoing challenges in the autonomous vehicle sector, particularly relevant to the electronics industry. This decision follows a serious incident involving a Cruise robotaxi and signals potential further recalls.

As reported by Reuters, the recall is prompted by issues with the Cruise Automated Driving Systems (ADS) software, specifically its collision detection subsystem, which may not function correctly after an accident. This was highlighted by an event in San Francisco, where a pedestrian was struck and dragged by a Cruise robotaxi. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) brought this to public attention, necessitating the recall.

This development represents a significant setback for GM’s Cruise unit, which is integral to the company’s future growth strategy. Despite projections by GM Chief Executive Mary Barra of generating $50 billion in revenue by 2030, Cruise has already experienced a substantial financial loss, with over $700 million gone in the third quarter of this year alone.

The recalled cars exhibit a software flaw where the vehicle may inappropriately attempt to pull over after a collision, instead of staying stationary. This flaw is critical, especially since Cruise’s operations were halted nationwide after California regulators deemed their vehicles a public risk. The company has also paused the production of its fully autonomous vehicle, Cruise Origin.

Additionally, Cruise faces two federal investigations regarding safety concerns, including incidents where the autonomous vehicles failed to yield to pedestrians. In response, Cruise is actively improving its software and anticipates more recalls to enhance safety. The company is also seeking a chief safety officer and has engaged Quinn Emanuel for an external safety review. This scenario highlights the intricate challenges and responsibilities facing developers in the autonomous vehicle and electronics industries, emphasizing the need for continuous innovation and stringent safety standards.

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