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GM’s Cruise Recalling 950 Driverless Cars After Pedestrian Dragged in Crash

In the ever-evolving landscape of autonomous driving technology, a new chapter unfolded with startling revelations about General Motors’ Cruise unit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) disclosed a critical issue with the Cruise Automated Driving Systems (ADS) software: its collision detection subsystem was responding inappropriately following crashes. This discovery led to a significant recall, marking yet another hurdle for GM’s Cruise, a cornerstone in their ambitious growth plans.

The stakes were high. GM’s Chief Executive, Mary Barra, had boldly projected in June that Cruise could amass $50 billion in revenue by 2030. However, the reality was grim – Cruise reported a loss exceeding $700 million in the third quarter alone.

The urgency of the situation was underscored by a chilling incident in San Francisco. A pedestrian, already struck by a hit-and-run driver, was hit a second time by a Cruise robotaxi, which tragically failed to stop in time, dragging the victim. This harrowing event brought to light the grave consequences of technological shortcomings in a world increasingly reliant on automated systems.

Addressing this pressing issue, Cruise announced a recall targeting the problematic software. The intended fix was to prevent the autonomous vehicles from attempting to pull over after a collision, a response deemed inappropriate in certain situations. The recall was a direct response to the growing scrutiny over Cruise’s safety protocols and technology.

Compounding the challenge, Cruise faced significant regulatory headwinds. California regulators, citing public safety concerns, suspended the robotaxi operator’s license, prompting Cruise to halt its operations nationwide. Moreover, the company decided to temporarily cease the production of its fully autonomous Cruise Origin vehicle.

In an alarming revelation, Cruise admitted the potential for serious injury from similar collisions could recur every 10 million to 100 million miles of driving prior to the software update. This statistic highlighted the precarious balance between innovation and safety in the realm of autonomous vehicles.

Further complicating the scenario, Cruise found itself under the microscope of two federal investigations. These probes centered around incidents where the company’s robot cars reportedly failed to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, raising serious questions about the reliability and safety of its technology.

Cruise, undeterred, pledged ongoing improvements to its software, hinting at future recalls as part of its commitment to enhance fleet safety. This proactive approach reflected a deep understanding of the evolving nature of autonomous vehicle technology and its challenges.

Amidst these tumultuous developments, Cruise, operating in various cities across the United States, continued its race against competitors like Alphabet’s Waymo unit to pioneer the robot car market. In a decisive move to bolster its safety credentials, Cruise initiated a search for a chief safety officer and engaged the services of law firm Quinn Emanuel for an external review.

This narrative, set against the backdrop of technological innovation and corporate ambition, unfolds like a high-stakes drama, highlighting the complex interplay between progress, safety, and the relentless pursuit of the future.

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