Self-driving cars block fire trucks – when robots don’t behave like humans

AmericaThe Cruise AV test drive caused the priority vehicle to take more time while on duty, posing new challenges with self-driving technology.

At 4:00 a.m. on an early April day, a fire truck was traveling to the scene of a fire when it was blocked by a test-drive Cruise AV. The situation caused San Francisco city officials to stop the program that allows testing of self-driving cars.

At that time, the fire truck’s lane was blocked by a garbage truck occupying the road, so it had to turn to the opposite lane to avoid it, but a Cruise AV stopped in the opposite lane parallel to the garbage truck, causing the road to be completely blocked. again.

A Cruise EV on the streets of San Francisco.  Photo: TechCrunch

A Cruise EV on the streets of San Francisco. Image: TechCrunch

“The incident slowed fire trucks, resulting in additional property damage and personal injury,” city officials wrote in a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

A representative of Cruise – a driverless car company under General Motors’ sub-brand – confirmed the incident, adding that the car operated as designed, stopped giving way to the fire truck and contacted the remote control staff. According to Cruise, the fire truck was blocked for about 25 seconds.

However, many people point out that, if it is a car with a driver, the driver can quickly back up to give way. But the Cruise remained stationary. The fire truck can only proceed when the garbage truck driver arrives and drives away.

One factor that is mentioned in this case, is that every second that passes when a priority vehicle is on duty is worth it.

This is just one of three similar situations that San Francisco city officials pointed to in a filing with CPUC, which proposes a program to allow testing of self-driving cars across the state.

One of the three situations occurred on April 1, when a Cruise stopped by the police due to not turning on the headlights when running on the street in the dark. And the other situation was at the end of April, with another Cruise stopping on the pedestrian crossing and blocking traffic for 5 minutes.

These cases point to design challenges for self-driving cars, which need to be flexible in handling real-world situations, even when they arise. While a normal driver can quickly draw conclusions and come up with solutions, self-driving cars need more time to react in similar situations.

These convoluted cases also reiterate the story, that the self-driving car industry is said to have admitted that no car manufacturer has ever made a car that actually has Level 5 self-driving technology, when the car can drive completely on its own.

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