Cruise, General Motors’ driverless taxi venture, has updated the software of its fleet of robotaxis to make them better equipped to handle encounters with emergency vehicles after one of the company’s Chevrolet Bolt EVs collided with a fire truck in San Francisco in August. When the collision happened, the passenger who was inside the driverless taxi sustained “non-severe injuries” and was taken to hospital.
According to GM’s robotaxi business, the autonomous vehicles can now better recognize different sirens, fire hoses, and caution tape, and their advanced alert system has also been beefed up to help them clear the way for first responders, as reported by Automotive News.
In a blog post on its official website, Cruise says the AVs will now slow down when they detect a siren, they will more effectively bypass double-parked emergency vehicles, and they’ll get out of the way as quickly as possible when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Furthermore, the remote teams that monitor each driverless Bolt EV will allow first responders access to the AVs so that they can be manually moved out of the way.
Cruise says that it worked closely with police and fire units to get notifications for emergencies in San Francisco, setting up email alerts directly from the city’s Emergency Services for scenes that need to be avoided.
The changes come after Cruise was instructed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to cut its fleet in half in the city of San Francisco after the August fire truck collision. Following the slimdown, roughly 20 robotaxis gridlocked a street in SF for no apparent reason, and more recently, a driverless Bolt EV ran over a pedestrian that was hit by a human-driven vehicle.
Other incidents where Cruise AVs were at the center of attention include getting stuck in wet concrete, getting tangled in caution tape and downed wires, colliding with a semi-truck, and getting stuck in the middle of an intersection where construction work was being done.