General Motors’ self-driving unit Cruise reportedly said on Sept. 1 that it has recalled 80 self-driving cars and will upgrade the software in those vehicles after a crash in San Francisco in June that injured two people.
Federal regulators say the software in the recalled vehicles may have “incorrectly predicted” the path of oncoming vehicles, and Cruise Corp. says it has now determined that the unusual situation will not recur after the update.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stepped up its scrutiny of advanced driver assistance systems and self-driving vehicle systems in recent months. Last year, the agency directed all automakers and technology companies to promptly report accidents involving self-driving vehicles.
The NHTSA said on Thursday that Cruise’s recall request “to address a safety flaw in its self-driving system software” is required by law.
NHTSA also added that it “expects all manufacturers, including those developing self-driving systems, to continually ensure that they meet the requirement to initiate recalls for any safety issues that pose an unreasonable risk to safety.
NHTSA said the recalled Cruise software could “in some cases cause (the self-driving system) to incorrectly predict the path of another vehicle when making an unprotected left turn, or to under-react to sudden path changes by road users.
Cruise disclosed on Thursday that it temporarily banned its vehicles from making unprotected left turns and reduced the areas in which its vehicles could operate following the June 3 crash in San Francisco. Following a July 6 software update, Cruise said it has gradually reintroduced unprotected left turns, which are intersections without a dedicated left-turn arrow light.
In a statement Thursday, Cruise stressed that all vehicles received the software update and that the recall “will not affect or change our current highway operations. The company added, “Cruise’s self-driving cars are now even better equipped to prevent this particular incident.”
NHTSA said, “Inappropriate self-driving system reactions increase the risk of collisions.” The agency said last month that it launched a special investigation into the accident involving the Cruise self-driving car.
Cruise said that in rare cases, the software caused the autonomous vehicle to brake hard while executing an unprotected left turn that the software believed was necessary to avoid a serious front-end collision. The company said the self-driving vehicle “had to decide between two different risk scenarios and chose the one that had the least likelihood of a serious collision before the oncoming vehicle suddenly changed direction.
Cruise also noted that the police report found that the party most at fault in the June crash was another vehicle that was traveling 40 miles per hour in a 25-mile zone.
In March, startup technology company Ponywise also agreed to recall some versions of its self-driving system software that had been used in three cars following the October crash in California.
GM has lost nearly $5 billion since 2018 trying to build a self-driving cab business in San Francisco. The company also disclosed in July that it lost $500 million in the second quarter after Cruise began charging for rides in a limited area of San Francisco.
GM and Cruise disclosed in February that they had submitted applications to the NHTSA to deploy self-driving vehicles on the road without steering wheels, mirrors, turn signals and windshield wipers. Last month, NHTSA said it would extend the public comment period on the request.