The Expansion of Cruise’s Self-Driving Car Testing Beyond the U.S.

After Cruise, the self-driving car unit of General Motors, halted all vehicle trips in the U.S. for a safety review, it has been revealed that the company is still conducting tests in Dubai and Japan. While all testing in the U.S. has been temporarily stopped, Cruise’s vehicles in Dubai and Japan are undergoing public testing as part of a “small pilot” program.

Cruise’s decision to continue testing abroad while pausing operations in the U.S. has raised questions about the safety disparities between these regions. Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina specializing in transportation issues, believes that Cruise needs to clarify the difference and explain why it is safe to test their vehicles in other parts of the world.

It is important to note that autonomous vehicles, even with a safety driver behind the wheel, are not infallible. Smith cites the 2018 Uber accident in Arizona as an example, where a self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian. This incident highlights the inherent risks associated with autonomous technology.

In the U.S., Cruise recently issued a recall for 950 vehicles due to concerns over the collision detection subsystem’s response after a crash. This recall came after an accident in which a Cruise vehicle struck a pedestrian in San Francisco and dragged her. The California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Cruise to remove its driverless cars from state roads, stating that they pose a risk to public safety.

Meanwhile, in Dubai, Cruise has been conducting testing primarily on peripheral islands, collaborating with a local company, TXAI, to offer free rides to residents. In Japan, Cruise and Honda have been jointly testing self-driving vehicles in the city of Utsunomiya and the adjacent Haga town. These tests are being conducted at Level 2 autonomy, with a safety driver present at all times.

As one of the leading autonomous vehicle companies, Cruise, along with Alphabet’s Waymo, is at the forefront of advancing self-driving technology. While it faces challenges and concerns surrounding safety, the company remains committed to rebuilding public trust by undergoing a full safety review.

1. Why did Cruise pause testing in the U.S. but continue in Dubai and Japan?
Cruise made the decision to temporarily halt testing in the U.S. as part of a safety review following an accident. However, they have continued testing in Dubai and Japan as part of a small pilot program, citing the need to gather further data and insights.

2. Are autonomous vehicles completely safe?
No, autonomous vehicles are not completely safe. Even with safety drivers present, accidents can still occur. The incident involving an Uber self-driving car in 2018 serves as a reminder that autonomous technology still has inherent risks.

3. Why did California regulators order Cruise to remove driverless cars from state roads?
California regulators raised concerns about the safety of Cruise’s driverless cars following an accident. They accused the company of not initially disclosing all video footage of the incident and deemed the vehicles to be a risk to public safety.