SAN FRANCISCO – Cruise, which operates autonomous taxis in San Francisco and autonomous delivery services in Arizona, recently recalled its robotaxi fleet after a passenger was injured in a crash. The recall was necessary to update the vehicle’s Cruise Automated Driving System software (ADS)
The robotaxi was making an “unprotected left turn” (UPL) and did not avoid an oncoming vehicle that went straight. An unprotected left turn is a turn where there is not a left-turn signal that indicates when it is a vehicle’s opportunity to go.
According to the recall filing Cruise made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “As the Cruise AV turned left and began traversing the intersection, the Cruise AV [autonomous vehicle] predicted that the oncoming vehicle, which was traveling approximately 40 mph in the 25 mph right-turn lane, would turn right and directly into the path of the Cruise AV. After the Cruise AV braked to avoid colliding with the front end of the oncoming vehicle, the oncoming vehicle suddenly moved out of the right-turn lane and proceeded straight through the intersection colliding with the rear right quarter panel of the Cruise AV.”
The filing further explained, “In a rare circumstance described below, a safety feature in the prior version of the subject ADS, known as the reflexive planner, caused the AV to hard brake while performing an unprotected left turn (“UPL”) when the ADS determined a hard brake was necessary to avoid a severe front-end collision with another vehicle.”
The company continued to operate its robotaxi service in San Francisco following the crash. But at some point after the crash, which Cruise has not disclosed, it disabled its vehicles’ ability to make UPLs and reduced the area where its robotaxis operated. Cruise has gradually reintroduced unprotected left turns since making the software update on July 6.