California suspends driverless taxis 

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California has banned self-driving taxis from San Francisco streets following an accident in which a pedestrian was pulled under the wheels of a Cruise vehicle. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) raised safety concerns, alleging that the company distorted what occurred following the event.

Cruise is one of two firms that has been allowed to provide taxi trips with driverless cars in the city. On October 2, a pedestrian was struck by a car and then propelled into the path of a Cruise taxi. According to Cruise, the car “detected a collision” and stopped. It then “attempted to pull over to avoid causing further road safety issues, pulling the individual forward approximately 20 feet”. However, the DMV has given a different account of what happened.

“During the course of performing the hard-braking manoeuvre, the AV collided with and ran over the pedestrian,” the agency said. “After coming to a complete stop, the AV vehicle subsequently attempted to perform a pullover manoeuvre while the pedestrian was underneath the vehicle.” The DMV also accuses Cruise of misrepresenting what happened.

“On October 3, the department met with Cruise to analyze the incident,” the agency said. “The video footage presented to the department ended with the AV’s initial stop following the hard-braking manoeuvre. Footage of the subsequent movement of the AV to perform a pullover manoeuvre was not shown to the department.”

Cruise said that the scenario had not been encountered before and was due to a “confluence of factors”. However, the DMV said that the incident “indicates that Cruise’s vehicles may lack the ability to respond in a safe and appropriate manner during incidents involving a pedestrian”.

The DMV has confirmed that the suspension does not apply to Waymo, the second firm that provides paid-for driverless taxis in San Francisco.

The sources for this piece include an article in BBC.

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