Cruise recalls 300 robotaxes for software update after collision with accordion city bus

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GM’s Cruise division has recalled 300 of its robotaxis in San Francisco for a software update after one of the autonomous vehicles collided with a bus. An investigation found that the taxi had not braked in response to the bus’s movement because the algorithm had not properly accounted for articulated vehicles. The robotaxi caused minor damage but no one on the bus was injured in the accident. Earlier this year, several robotaxis were left bored on a street in San Francisco, while unmanned vehicles blocked a fire truck on its way to an emergency call and became entangled in power lines during testing.

Cruise recalls 300 robotaxes for software update after collision with accordion city bus

GM’s Cruise division has recalled 300 robotaxes in San Francisco for a software update after one of the drones collided with the city’s accordion bus.

The investigation showed that due to an error in the software, the robot taxi in an unusual situation did not take emergency braking measures and at low speed crashed into the back of a passenger bus moving on its normal route. Before the accident, the bus was leaving the stop and slowed down a little in front of the taxi. As a result of the incident, the front part of the taxi was slightly damaged, no one in the bus was injured.

The problem was that the developers did not take into account in the algorithm of the movement of the robotaxi the condition that in the situation with articulated vehicles you need to act more carefully, and also expect that the back of the bus may not have passed a certain section of the road yet, and it also needs to be missed.

Sometimes robot taxis allow small collisions with other cars, but we did not expect that they would not be able to assess such a simple road situation and crash into a passenger bus from behind. This was an isolated incident of this nature, but it deserves an immediate and thorough investigation,” explained Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt.

“Experts found out that the behavior of the bus was reasonable and predictable. He pulled into the lane from the bus stop and slowed down. Although our car braked in response, it braked too late and hit the bus from behind at a speed of about 16 km/h.

We identified the root cause as a unique error in predicting the movement of articulated vehicles (ie vehicles with two sections joined by a flexible joint that allows them to bend in the middle) such as the bus involved in this incident

In this case, the taxi’s view of the front of the bus was completely blocked when the bus pulled in front of the car. Because the robotaxis had previously seen the front of the obstacle and recognized that the bus could bend, the algorithm predicted that the bus would move as connected sections with the rear section following the predicted path of the front section. This caused a bug where the robotaxi responded to the predicted actions of the front of the bus (which it could no longer see) rather than the actual actions of the back of the bus. That is why the robot taxi did not have time to brake.”

– reported in GM Cruise.

Two days after the bus accident, Cruise developers tested a new version of the algorithm and updated the robotaxi software to avoid similar incidents.

In late March, a group of GM Cruise robot taxis in San Francisco successfully drove through safety fences set up by highway officials and became entangled in downed power lines on the road after a hurricane. Unmanned vehicles could not understand that there was an emergency situation on the road. The machines did not detect obstacles in the form of fallen wires and tape fencing in front of them.

In early 2023, robot taxi developers in California


with an unexpected bug in the delivery system. A passenger can fall asleep at the end of the trip to San Francisco, and only the rescuers can wake him up, although their call is ten times more expensive than the cost of a human delivery service.

Earlier, in one of the incidents of the special services, which participated in extinguishing a large fire, they saw an unmanned vehicle approaching. They made efforts to avoid running into the hoses, but were unable to do so until they broke the glass on the front door and manually pushed it away. Only after that the car stopped. In another case, the robotax blocked the road for almost a minute for a fire truck that was on its way to an emergency call. Developers from GM Cruise and Waymo explained to the media that they conducted an investigation into each incident involving fire hoses and cars, and took steps to avoid similar out-of-office situations in the future.

At the end of June 2022 in San Francisco, several GM Cruise service robotaxes were bored right on the road of one of the streets for a multi-hour overnight stop. Employees of the company arrived at the scene of the incident, removed the blocks from the cars and led them away from the stop. The company did not give a reason for stopping and gathering several robotaxes in one place.

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