Questioning the Utopia of an AV Reality

The human arsenal might be expansive beyond all limits, but to tell you the truth, it is still yet to possess anything more valuable than tendency of ours to grow on a consistent basis. This is because the stated tendency has already enabled us to hit upon some huge milestones, with technology appearing as a rather unique member of the group. The reason why technology’s credentials are so anomalous is down to its skill-set, which was unprecedented enough to guide us towards a reality that nobody could have ever imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, a slightly closer look should reveal how the whole runner was also very much inspired by the way we applied those skills across a real-world environment. The latter component was, in fact, what gave the creation a spectrum-wide presence and made it the ultimate centrepiece of every horizon. Having such an ingenious tool run the show expectantly scaled up the human experience from all conceivable directions, but even after achieving a feat so notable, the prodigious concept of technology will somehow continue delivering every right good in the book. The same has turned more and more apparent over the recent past, but despite our advancements, a new development around the automotive space proves that there is still a long way to go before we are able to fully optimize this new iteration of technology.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially launched an investigation against General Motors’ Cruise in relation to a string of incidents where  company’s autonomous vehicles were caught blocking the road or causing rear-end collisions. According to certain reports, the investigation will focus on three particular incidents that saw Cruise vehicles getting hit from behind after braking without any prior indication. Now, while each incident had a safety driver present inside the car, the collisions do hint at a trend, which could be hugely concerning for the future of autonomous vehicles.

“Although the two types of incidents appear to be distinct, they each result in the Cruise vehicles becoming unexpected roadway obstacles,” NHTSA states in its report. “This may introduce multiple potential hazards such as a collision with a Cruise vehicle, risk to a stranded passenger exiting an immobilized Cruise vehicle, or obstruction of other traffic including emergency vehicles.”

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time Cruise has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. For instance, on one occasion, a company vehicle was pulled over by a police officer, but before he could even complete his inspection, the vehicle abruptly drove away from there. Then, there was another event where half a dozen Cruise vehicles just stopped working at a busy San Francisco intersection, thus blocking the traffic for several hours. These growing questions eventually prompted country’s AV hub, San Francisco to urge NHTSA to take some sort of a remedial action.

NHTSA, on its part, has been trying to improve the AV landscape for some time now. In order to ensure customer safety, the agency issued a Standing General Order last year, an order which mandated automakers and tech companies to report crashes involving AVs as well as Level 2 driver-assist systems. Beyond that, NHTSA also requires companies to document crashes when ADAS and automated technologies are in use within 30 seconds of impact.

Coming back to the investigation in question, Drew Pusateri, a spokesperson for Cruise, delivered the company’s stance on it with the following statement:

“Cruise’s safety record is publicly reported and includes having driven nearly 700,000 fully autonomous miles in an extremely complex urban environment with zero life-threatening injuries or fatalities. This is against the backdrop of over 40,000 deaths each year on American roads. There’s always a balance between healthy regulatory scrutiny and the innovation we desperately need to save lives, which is why we’ll continue to fully cooperate with NHTSA or any regulator in achieving that shared goal.”

The probe is likely to cover all of Cruise’s estimated 242 vehicles currently operating across the San Francisco area.

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