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Cruise Delays Launch of Its Autonomous Taxi Service

The GM subsidiary had planned to debut an autonomous ride-hailing service by the end of 2019, but now it seems as if Cruise is moving away from deadlines and launch dates altogether. [1]

The company still plans to dramatically increase its numbers of autonomous test vehicles on the road in San Francisco but will not be offering rides to the public this year. “We want that moment to come as quickly as we can. But everything that we do right now is going to be gated by safety. And that’s why we’re increasing our testing and validation mileage just to get to that point as rapidly as possible,” says Dan Ammann who is leading the autonomous vehicle unit.

After a decade of huge investments and massive media coverage, autonomous (not automated) vehicles remain delayed indefinitely. Instead, a lot of companies and stakeholders are joining forces to address safety. Eleven major companies recently released a 157-page white paper that outlines how to build, test and operate a safe automated vehicle. The so-called “Safety First for Automated Driving” group (SaFAD) states 12 principles for designing, testing and validating safe automated vehicles [2].

On the same topic, Uber has shared its blueprint in hopes that it will become the industry standard for developing safety systems. It starts with a premise that the company’s “self-driving vehicles are acceptably safe to operate on public roads,” and describes a comprehensive series of steps that must be developed and verified to meet it [3].

 

Personal comments

Acceptable safety and/or performance is apparently not reached for Cruise to push for a public launch anytime soon. While the process of evaluating performance is clearer, determining “acceptable safety” is a highly debated topic. Today we (consciously or unconsciously) accept a certain level of safety (or risk) when using different modes of transport. Framing it as a risk of different failures could be more practical and provide a better fit with how actors such as regulators and insurance companies are used to address safety today. But what is an acceptable risk when it comes to autonomous vehicles? To conclude, statistically, you could apparently fly every day for four million years on average before a fatal plane crash [4].

 

Written by Victor Malmsten Lundgren, RISE Viktoria.

 

Sources

1. 2019-07-24. Cruise postpones plan to launch driverless taxi service in 2019.

2. 2019-07-13. How safe are robotaxis? BMW, Intel, Aptiv (and 8 others) just laid out a safety blueprint.

3. 2019-07-18 Uber made a blueprint for safe self-driving cars it wants the rest of the industry to follow.

4. 2019-02-21. Fact check: is flying safe?