GM Unit’s Self-Driving Taxis Are Subject of US Safety Investigation | Technology

GM Unit’s Self-Driving Taxis Are Subject of US Safety Investigation | Technology

The primary federal auto security company disclosed on Friday that it has begun a preliminary investigation into vehicles {that a} division of Normal Motors has been testing as driverless taxis in San Francisco.

The company, the Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration, stated in a submitting posted on its web site that it had obtained stories that autonomous taxis operated by G.M.’s Cruise division had develop into immobilized on roadways, creating obstacles for different automobiles. The company additionally stated G.M. reported three incidents wherein Cruise automobiles slowed abruptly and have been hit from behind.

The company stated its Workplace of Defects Investigation would attempt to decide the scope and severity of the 2 sorts of incidents.

Regulators are more and more scrutinizing autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles, and the claims automakers have made about them. The auto security company’s most excessive profile investigation on this space entails Tesla’s self-driving know-how. Regulators are trying into a minimum of 14 crashes involving Tesla vehicles driving on Autopilot that resulted in 19 deaths.

No fatalities or severe accidents have been reported in Cruise vehicles, however the auto security company stated the automobiles might doubtlessly put individuals in danger. When Cruise taxis cease unexpectedly, they “might strand automobile passengers in unsafe areas, reminiscent of lanes of journey or intersections, and develop into an surprising impediment to different highway customers,” the company stated in its submitting. “These immobilizations might improve the chance to exiting passengers. Additional, immobilization might trigger different highway customers to make abrupt or unsafe maneuvers to keep away from colliding with the immobilized Cruise automobile.”

The investigation covers 242 automobiles and is step one earlier than the company might pressure G.M. to recall automobiles.

This yr, Cruise started providing autonomous taxi rides in a part of San Francisco and through low-traffic nighttime hours. It just lately was cleared to broaden the service to town’s downtown space and to function 24 hours a day. The division has been making ready to broaden its operations to Austin, Texas, and Phoenix.

G.M. and different auto and know-how firms have spent billions of {dollars} creating autonomous driving methods with hopes of providing taxi rides, deliveries and trucking companies to customers and different companies. Waymo, which is owned by Google’s dad or mum firm, has been engaged on the know-how for greater than a decade and is providing driverless taxis in and round Phoenix. The corporate stated on Friday it had began providing driverless taxi rides in San Francisco after receiving approval from California regulators.

In a daylong investor presentation final month, G.M.’s chief monetary officer, Paul Jacobson, stated the corporate believed Cruise might develop into a $50 billion enterprise by 2030. “Cruise is an integral a part of this and can broaden to different cities,” he stated. “They’re making actually good progress.”

However progress has come far more slowly than initially anticipated, and a few auto firms and traders have grown cautious of placing more cash into the know-how as a result of it could not produce vital gross sales or earnings for years to return. In October, Ford Motor and Volkswagen stated they’d wind down Argo AI, the autonomous-car firm they’d invested in.

Cade Metz contributed reporting.

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