The Golden Years of Cruise: The Challenge of Developing a Fully Self-Sustaining Autonomous Car in the City of San Francisco
The CEO of Cruise sent out a video of passengers from those two cities talking about the cars as proof that the promise was fulfilled. He said that we are entering the golden years of expansion.
The company claimed in January that it would be able to offer self-driving vehicles in new cities in 90 days with little or no testing needed compared to San Francisco. Indeed, it did take years for Cruise to launch its paid driverless taxi service in San Francisco.
The company had planned to launch a commercial service there in 2020 but decided it wouldn’t be ready in time. The service later launched in 2022.
The NHTSA said last week that they had opened an investigation into the incidents where Cruise vehicles have resulted in rear-end collides and blocked traffic. The company said it welcomed the scrutiny, noting that its vehicles have caused “zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities.”
Developing cars that can drive without a human is a unique challenge. There are many things that fully self-sufficient cars need to be prepared for, and mistakes can have serious consequences. Computational frameworks to evaluate the system’s performance are among the fields where innovation is required to solve these problems.
The industry has solved many technical challenges over the last decade. For instance, since 2020, residents in the East Valley of Phoenix, in Arizona, have been able to open the Waymo One app, hail a ride, and get where they need to go in a vehicle without a human driver. It’s hard to overstate how significant that breakthrough is. The year of 2023 will be a crucial one for the future of the industry because of the arrival of the new phase of scaling and expansion.
Trucking will get a glimpse of progress. Thousands of tons of goods are being hauled by self-guided trucks for a variety of companies. Big rigs that are not manned will become more common in Texas and Arizona. The companies are going to sign more partnerships. Freight volumes will increase, demonstrating how AVs could help untangle supply chains and backfill the immense shortage of truck drivers. The world was short more than 2.6 million truck drivers. If you live in the southwestern United States, there’s a good chance that your furniture will be transported autonomously.
San Francisco transportation officials want Waymo and Cruise to slow the expansion of their robotaxi services in the city due to safety concerns, as reported earlier by NBC News. In letters to the California Public Utilities Commission, the officials of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority say the expansion of the two services is unreasonable because of recent incidents.
“A series of limited deployments with incremental expansions — rather than unlimited authorizations — offer the best path toward public confidence in driving automation and industry success in San Francisco and beyond,” the letter reads.
Zoox: A Robot Axi For Zero Accidental Injuries, Driving and Running Over a Fire Hose at an Active Firefighting Scene
Months later, a Cruise AV “ran over a fire hose that was in use at an active fire scene,” and another Cruise vehicle almost did the same at an active firefighting scene earlier this month. After they shattered a window of the car, firefighters were able to stop the vehicle from running over the hose. Other incidents involve Cruise calling 911 about “unresponsive” passengers on three separate occasions, only for emergency services to arrive and find that the rider just fell asleep.
“Cruise’s safety record is publicly reported and includes having driven millions of miles in an extremely complex urban environment with zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities,” Cruise spokesperson Aaron Mclear tells The Verge.
These letters are part of the regulatory process, and we have appreciated a healthy dialogue with city officials and government agencies in California, says a spokeswoman for Waymo. “Waymo will have the opportunity to reply in our submission to the CPUC next week.”
Zoox has a vehicle that is currently being tested in Seattle, Las Vegas, and the Bay Area. The company mostly uses Toyota Highlanders retrofitted with sensors and cameras as part of its fleet.
The prototype was not designed to comply with federal safety standards and was not able to go over 25 mph. Firefly “was also never designed for production, as it was clearly a test/research vehicle platform (which Waymo then abandoned),” he added. The Zoox robotaxi complies with the complete set of FMVSS, is fully street-legal, and has a comprehensive set of safety andcomfort features for our riders.