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Cruise rolling out safety upgrades for its robotaxis

Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt believes driverless cities will be a thing in future.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt believes driverless cities will be a thing in future.

Cruise, the autonomous vehicle startup, is rolling out crucial safety upgrades for its fleet of robotaxis in response to recent incidents in San Francisco. 

The company, armed with artificial intelligence technology, aims to enhance the responsiveness of its driverless cars during emergencies. These upgrades will enable the vehicles to navigate complex situations, such as avoiding obstacles like double-parked ambulances and responding to sirens, thereby facilitating emergency access for first responders.

Cruise pumping up safety

Cruise’s initiative to improve safety is the result of discussions with San Francisco public safety agencies, highlighting the company’s commitment to community engagement. 

The focus is not just on deploying advanced technology but also on ensuring seamless integration with the local communities they operate in.

The vice president of Cruise, Prashanthi Raman says the company’s ongoing dialogue with San Francisco public safety agencies influenced the development of these updates.

“We really want to launch with communities and not at them. At Cruise, we take it very seriously … to continue those collaborative discussions from the beginning and throughout any necessary feedback to solve issues that are coming up,” Raman says.

Are robotaxis safer?

In the face of controversy surrounding the increase of self-driving vehicles in San Francisco, Cruise remains steadfast. A study in collaboration with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute demonstrated that Cruise vehicles had significantly fewer collisions than traditional human-operated ride-hailing services. These safety enhancements directly address concerns raised by the city, especially regarding the impact of robotaxis on emergency response efforts.

Despite ongoing challenges, Cruise continues its dedication to safety. The company has developed technologies capable of detecting deflated fire hoses and improving emergency scene recognition systems to bolster public safety. 

While acknowledging that perfection might be unattainable, Cruise firmly believes in reducing accidents on the roads overall.

The company is also complying with the motor vehicles department’s request to cut its fleet in half while it investigates some of the unfortunate incidents involving its cars. In a statement, San Francisco police spokesperson Evan Sernoffsky says the department has been communicating with autonomous vehicle companies to help improve their technology.

“We welcome any effort by these companies to improve safety measures. Our number one priority is public safety and the SFPD is committed to protecting people in our city,” Sernoffsky says.

Police supervisor, Aaron Peskin agrees, saying: “This is an admission by Cruise that their software wasn’t safe, and it’s taken them months to make adjustments to their technology. They are still using San Francisco as a testing ground and the state of California still refuses to hold them to reasonable public safety standards.”

About the author

Marce has contributed tech to various prominent publications since 2018, offering a transparent perspective into the tech industry and its effects on its users. She now spends her time developing insightful content for industry players. You know, when she's not gaming or geeking out about the latest fad.

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