NHTSA Evaluating Cruise Automated Driving System

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has opened a preliminary investigation into Automated Driving System (ADS) equipped vehicles operated by Cruise LLC.

According to the administration, those vehicles may engage in “inappropriately hard braking” or become immobilized while operating in the specified Operational Design Domain.

“Although the two types of incidents appear to be distinct, they each result in the Cruise vehicles becoming unexpected roadway obstacles,” the administration writes 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.”

NHTSA has received three reports of ADS initiating a hard-braking maneuver in response to another road user that was quickly approaching from the rear. NHTSA says those incidents saw ADS-equipped vehicles rear-ended.

“With respect to the incidents of vehicle immobilization, NHTSA has been notified of multiple reports involving Cruise ADS equipped vehicles, operating without onboard human supervision, becoming immobilized,” NHTSA continues. “When this occurs, the vehicle may strand vehicle passengers in unsafe locations, such as lanes of travel or intersections, and become an unexpected obstacle to other road users. These immobilizations may increase the risk to exiting passengers.”

The administration does not have a firm figure with respect to immobilization incidents. However, NHTSA says it has learned of “multiple” incidents through a variety of sources, including Cruise.

ODI’s assessment will include the commonality and safety logic of the hard braking incidents, as well as the frequency, duration and safety consequences associated with the vehicle immobilization incidents.

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