GM Recalls 300 Driverless Robotaxis after Software Error Caused Rare Crash

GM’s Cruise has recalled 300 self-driving Robotaxis after a software error caused a crash on March 23. The automated vehicle (AV) unit of GM, Cruise said the self-driving car failed to accurately predict the movement of a bus it crashed into in San Francisco.

The company said it was a rare occurrence that was not likely to occur again, but the model’s software had to be updated out of an abundance of caution. The software update was done on March 25.

In a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Cruise explained that the Robotaxi did not perfectly determine the expected movement of articulated vehicles such as buses and tractor-trailers – hence the crash. The automaker said a municipal bus pulled out from a bus stop into a traffic lane and then stopped before the Cruise hit it from behind.

“The bus’s behavior was reasonable and predictable,” said Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt. “It pulled out into a lane of traffic from a bus stop and then came to a stop. Although our car did brake in response, it applied the brakes too late and rear-ended the bus at about 10 mph. Cruise determined that the collision was caused by an issue related to the prediction of the unique movements of articulated vehicles in rare circumstances.”

Vogt stated that such unlikely crashes would never happen again following the software update.

“Fender benders like this rarely happen to our AVs, but this incident was unique,” he said. “We do not expect our vehicles to run into the back of a city bus under any conditions, so even a single incident like this was worthy of immediate and careful study.”

In September 2022, Cruise recalled 80 driverless cars after a crash occurred in June and two people were injured in San Francisco. The software of the vehicles was also updated to prevent a recurrence of the mishap. NHTSA said the accident happened because the software of the vehicle was not able to correctly predict the course of an oncoming vehicle.

However, the NHTSA is still investigating various complaints in which customers claimed that Cruise self-driving cars sometimes brake hard or get immobilized among other erroneous behaviors.