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Cruise AVs back on the road, but with a driver behind the wheel

Cruise AVs back on the road, but with a driver behind the wheel
Cruise AVs back on the road, but with a driver behind the wheel

Cruise’s autonomous vehicles (AVs) are back on the road again. Committed to its “driverless mission”, the company says supervised autonomous driving will begin in Phoenix, Arizona. 

If this trail phase is successful, supervised driverless operations will be extended to Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler. 

These tests come six months after Cruise pulled all its self-driving vehicles off the road. In October, the company faced several setbacks when a pedestrian was injured when hit by an AV. Cruise subsequently had its DMV permits suspended. 

Back on the road

Cruise says during the latest testing phase, its cars will “drive autonomously, with a safety driver behind the wheel.” This is to monitor the trip and take the wheel if necessary. 

Supervised monitoring is part of “a critical validation phase” Cruise would have to pass before it is allowed to redeploy self-driving cars. 

The company said it’s also fine-turning its “extensive work in simulation [and] closed-course driving.” In doing so, the AV fleet clocked more than 5 million driverless miles. This is to ensure “safe performance on real-world roads and driving scenarios.” 

Cruise’s safety measures extend across three pillars – product safety, operational safety, and enterprise safety. All its AVs – manufactured by General Motors – must be “thoroughly tested and validated through a measured release process.”

Operational safety measures include documented procedures and protocols for driver training and performance management processes. This while enterprise safety measures dictates that every Cruise worker be “empowered and responsible for the safety of [the company’s] product and operations.”

Cruise’s manual driving tests

In April, manually-driven vehicles were used to map and gather road information. The goal was to resume driverless operations and “remain focused on continuing to improve our performance and overall safety approach.”

With its autonomous systems disengaged, Cruise vehicles were operated by human drivers to gather road information and retrain its AVs. At the time, a company spokesperson said the fleet “learns from every intersection, construction zone, and road sign it encounters.” 

It then applies that knowledge to other environments and scenarios, similar to how a human driver would learn. Under the helm of newly-appointed chief safety officer Steve Kenner, Cruise also established a team to “guide engagement with regulators in regard to incident reporting.”

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.

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