Cruise Faces Scrutiny Over Human Assistance in Self-Driving Cars, Temporarily Halts Production of Cruise Origin Van

Cruise, the self-driving arm of General Motors, has recently faced scrutiny regarding its reliance on human assistance in its autonomous vehicles (AVs), following its permit being suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). CEO Kyle Vogt has responded to these allegations, confirming the Cruise AVs rely on human intervention more often than previously thought.

At the same time the company has announced a temporary halt in production for its Cruise Origin van.

Human Assistance in Cruise AVs

Vogt responded to allegations in New York Times report that Cruise self-driving cars are not entirely autonomous and require assistance from human operators, who work as “remote assistants,” every 2-4 miles. In an interview with Hacker News Vogt confirmed that Cruise AVs receive remote assistance in complex urban environments around 2-4% of the time. The company later explained the level of interventions further, telling CNBC that “remote assistance” sessions occur every 4-5 miles, with Vogt saying that many of these are solved by the car itself before a human even intervenes.

“Of those, many are resolved by the AV itself before the human even looks at things, since we often have the AV initiate proactively and before it is certain it will need help. Many sessions are quick confirmation requests (it is ok to proceed?) that are resolved in seconds. There are some that take longer and involve guiding the AV through tricky situations. Again, in aggregate this is 2-4% of time in driverless mode,” Vogt explained.

This disclosure follows a collision involving a Cruise robotaxi that led to the suspension of the company’s permits for operating driverless vehicles in California. State regulators cited concerns about the safety of Cruise’s self-driving technology and the company’s response to the incident.

Production Halt for Cruise Origin

In addition to addressing the human-assisted driving issue, General Motors has announced a temporary pause in the production of its fully autonomous Cruise Origin van.

Vogt explained that the company has already produced hundreds of Cruise Origin vehicles, and the current level of inventory will be sufficient for its testing that will be conducted in the near future. The company had petitioned U.S. regulators to deploy up to 2,500 self-driving Origin vehicles annually without traditional human controls, such as steering wheels.

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