Passenger injured in driverless crash with fire engine in San Francisco

A driverless car operated by the GM subsidiary Cruise has crashed with a fire engine answering an emergency call, after driving through a green light while taking a passenger in San Francisco.

The passenger was injured and taken to hospital, although Cruise says sustained what are believed to be “non-severe” injuries.

It happened around 10pm on 17 August.

In a statement, Cruise says: “The AV [autonomous vehicle] positively identified the emergency vehicle almost immediately as it came into view, which is consistent with our underlying safety design and expectation. It is worth noting, however, that the confines of this specific intersection make visual identification more challenging – for humans and AVs alike – as it is significantly occluded by buildings, meaning that it is not possible to see objects around the corner until they are physically very close to the intersection. 

“The AV’s ability to successfully chart the emergency vehicle’s path was complicated by the fact that the emergency vehicle was in the oncoming lane of traffic, which it had moved into to bypass the red light. 

“Cruise AVs have the ability to detect emergency sirens, which increase their ability to operate safely around emergency vehicles and accompanying scenes. In this instance, the AV identified the siren as soon as it was distinguishable from the background noise. 

“The Cruise AV did identify the risk of a collision and initiated a braking maneuver, reducing its speed, but was ultimately unable to avoid the collision.”

Cruise adds that it’s had more than 168,000 interactions with emergency vehicles in just in the first seven months of this year alone.

“We realise that we’ll always encounter challenging situations, which is why continuous improvement is central to our work,” it concludes. “We will continue to work in partnership with regulators and city departments on EMV interactions to reduce the likelihood of incidents like these happening again.”

(File picture – Cruise)


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