GM recalls Cruise autonomous vehicles after left-turn crash

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GM recalled all 80 of its Cruise division's autonomous test vehicles this week to perform a software update stemming from an accident involving one of its self-driving testbeds in June. The Cruise vehicle was operating in driverless mode and attempted to make a legal, unprotected left turn when a speeding vehicle traveling in the opposite direction circumvented stopped traffic by using a right-turn-only lane, striking the Cruise vehicle in the intersection. Occupants in both vehicles were treated for minor injuries.

"The police report found, among other things, the 'party at most fault' for the collision was the other vehicle, which was 'traveling in the ... right turn only lane at a speed that was greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for the safety of others on the roadway,'" GM's recall documentation said. "However, in an abundance of caution and in accordance with its safety practices and policies, Cruise implemented certain mitigation measures, including disabling unprotected left turns from the fleet, and reducing the ODD to a smaller geofence. Since releasing the new software update on July 6, 2022, Cruise has gradually reintroduced UPLs in its fleet."

"During its investigation, Cruise met with NHTSA multiple times, providing updates and analyses of the subject crash and the ADS behavior, as well as explanations of next steps and mitigation measures, as noted above," it continued. "Cruise presented information to NHTSA that, during the incident, Cruise AV’s reflexive planner feature recognized a front-end collision risk created by a speeding vehicle, which reasonably indicated that it would take a right because it was in the right hand turn lane. The Cruise AV stopped to avoid the collision risk and create a path for the other vehicle. The Cruise AV had to decide between two different risk scenarios and chose the one with the least potential for a serious collision."

Since the oncoming vehicle misused the right-turn-only lane, a collision happened anyway. GM has since re-enabled unprotected left-turn functionality and with the new software update, should be better prepared to handle unexpected (and in this case, illegal) driver behaviors in similar scenarios. All 80 Cruise autonomous test vehicles are owned or leased by GM and its Cruise unit, so no customer vehicles need to be addressed.

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