GM Wants Robocar Safety Waiver, San Francisco Not So Sure • The Register

analysis Two San Francisco transit companies have asked the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to review the safety of General Motors’ self-driving cruise cars.

in the a letter [PDF] submitted last week in response to an NHTSA listing [PDF] explore Petition from GM For an exception to safety regulations, directors at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) are urging the Federal Traffic Safety Agency to take a closer look at how GM’s autonomous cruise cars are performing in the city have proven roads.

GM’s Cruise AVs have been authorized for commercial operation as a nightly robo-taxi service in San Francisco until California Public Utilities Commission as of June 1st. The launch wasn’t 100 percent successful, either several malfunctions Cause congestion as cars refuse to drive, one of the most recent incident caused a kerfuffle on Thursday.

While Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA director, and Tilly Chang, SFCTA executive director, express their excitement about “the possibility of automated driving to significantly improve road safety,” they also note that GM’s petition does not document or document safety performance analyzes Cruise’s existing modified Chevy Bolt or his forthcoming Origin AV. And they raise several concerns.

First, the agencies’ letter states that there are only about 100 Cruise AVs in service on the city’s streets. If even half of the 5,000 AVs called for in GM’s petition were allowed, “this 25x fleet expansion could severely undermine roadside performance for all San Francisco travelers.”

As a precedent, the letter cites research by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority that found that 5,700 Uber and Lyft cars caused 25 percent of all traffic delays in the city in 2016.

Second, the challenge of dealing with a malfunctioning Cruise AV – which currently involves dispatching a human driver to recover a stuck vehicle – “makes the spate of recently observed Cruise AV lane failures far more consequential” given the Origin’s manual controls missing and cannot be picked up by a company driver.

“While a Cruise AV can be recovered if a human driver is dispatched to an error site to manually recover the vehicle, it is our understanding that the Origin can only be removed from the streets of San Francisco by towing,” it said in the letter.

“A performance not vastly superior to Cruise AV’s performance with a larger fleet or during the day could quickly deplete emergency response resources and erode public confidence in all automated driving technologies.”

Finally, agency heads fear that the Origin will be heavier and larger than the current Cruise AV and therefore “could exacerbate the dangers” cited in the letter.

public concern

According to the transit agency, police have observed driverless AVs in lanes since late May, and city officials have noticed 9-1-1 calls from concerned citizens.

“Some callers complained of erratic driving (including signaling one direction while moving the other direction) or a Cruise AV blocking a transit vehicle, but the most common complaint at 9-1-1 was that Cruise- AV’s lanes blocked for extended periods causing traffic congestion,” the letter said.

Between May 29, 2022 and September 5, 2022, 28 calls to emergency services related to Cruise AVs were received, the letter said, although it is unclear if these are duplicates. Another 20 reports of Cruise AVs were also spotted on social media. The agencies understand that represents “a fraction of actual road disruptions to lanes” as few people are on the streets to observe disruptions during Cruise’s operating hours – 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Map of cruise failures

Map of cruise failures…Click to enlarge

While the exact number of incidents involving self-driving cruise cars since autonomous operations began in June isn’t clear, San Francisco’s robo-taxis have been found to be breaking down, delaying traffic.

It was two computer-controlled cars captured on video Traffic closure near the intersection of Sacramento Street and Leavenworth Street. According to KRON-4, the incident happened around 10 p.m on Thursday.

Elsewhere in the city, KRON-4 reporter Dan Thorn came across a stalled, unoccupied Cruise car while driving a colleague home.

“It blocked Sacramento at Mason,” he wrote An entry to Twitter. “‘Jasper,’ the car, played tunes, but nobody was in it. @SFMTA_Muni Bus had to be diverted.”

He said it took Cruise 20 minutes to reply to the first responder’s phone number, which was visible on the car’s screen.

KRON-4, an affiliate of MyNetworkTV, also reports that a Cruise vehicle swerved into the lane of a San Francisco Muni bus Thursday, causing both vehicles to stop. The incident is said to have happened around 10:19 p.m. on Geary Street near the Franklin Street intersection.

This was announced by the San Francisco police The registry It could not find any reports of these incidents from the last week.

Not an isolated case

But there were others. On Tuesday, June 28, 2022, as many as According to the San Francisco Examiner, 20 driverless Cruise cars had stopped at the corner of Gough and Fulton streets, blocking traffic for about two hours. Elsewhere in town that evening, near Fell and Masonic, Cruise cars are also said to have been idling on the road.

“Safety is the guiding principle in everything we do,” Cruise spokesman Drew Pusateri said in an email The registry.

“This means that if our cars encounter a situation where it is not safe for them to proceed, they turn on their hazard lights and we either get them running again or come and collect them as soon as possible. This could be due to a mechanical problem such as a flat tire, a road condition or a technical problem. We are working to keep the incidence to a minimum and apologize to everyone affected.”

The company has also been working to improve its software. On June 3, 2022, just days after Cruise received the green light to operate autonomously, one of the company’s vehicles operating in autonomous mode was hit by a Toyota Prius.

Corresponding a report [PDF] GM filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on August 26, 2022 that the cruise robocar made an unprotected left turn (across traffic) and was struck by the oncoming Prius. The Prius driver was considered “the party most at fault” in the police report, although Cruise nonetheless revised his software to make a different path prediction under the circumstances.

“As the Cruise AV made a left turn and began traversing the intersection, the Cruise AV predicted that the oncoming vehicle, traveling approximately 40 mph in the 25 mph right turn lane, would turn right and head straight into the Cruise AV’s path would. ” says the report.

“After the Cruise AV braked to avoid colliding with the front end of the oncoming vehicle, the oncoming vehicle suddenly exited the right-turn lane and went straight through the intersection, colliding with the rear right quarter panel of the Cruise AV.”

The new software, released on July 6, 2022, “improves the ADS [automated driving system] Predictive performance in a variety of ways, including conditions similar to the unique, extraordinary event that is the subject of this filing.

According to Cruise, the update means his robocar would have chosen a different path that avoids the collision.

This was announced by the California Public Utilities Commission The registry“CPUC is aware of the autonomous vehicle (AV) incidents in San Francisco, and we are working with the AV companies to understand their frequency, location and conditions under which they occur. Generally, if an AV company violates their licensing terms, the CPUC has the power to suspend or revoke their license to operate.”

What SFMTA and SFCTA want is better data and the implementation of numerous security measures.

“San Francisco believes these incidents reflect the simple reality that the Cruise AV automated driving system is still in development,” the agency’s letter said.

“We don’t expect perfection. However, these incidents indicate that lane failures blocking roads should be considered a key performance indicator of driverless driving readiness and that NHTSA should collect data on the number and frequency of these incidents in relation to both vehicle miles traveled and severity of impact on the road (lanes affected and duration of impact).” ® GM Wants Robocar Safety Waiver, San Francisco Not So Sure • The Register

Laura Coffey

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