Cruise’s Self-Driving Cars May Not Be as Smart as They Appear

Cruise Automation, the General Motors-owned autonomous car startup, turned heads in the self-driving car world earlier this month. Test results filed with California regulators implied that its self-driving software might be more advanced than that of Mercedes, Tesla, Bosch and Delphi.

The results showed that the company’s workers had to take control of the steering wheel of the cars, to avoid a possible accident or because of another error, less frequently than was the case with many of its rivals. That was significant. GM’s $581 million purchase of Cruise last year had surprised autonomous car professionals in Silicon Valley who saw the startup’s technology as unproven.


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GM spokesman Dave Roman said Cruise’s upcoming robo-taxi service that Cruise is planning to offer through Lyft, the ride-sharing app, would be in “geofenced” areas, meaning it would be restricted to locations that Cruise believes its cars can adequately handle. The service is expected to launch on a limited basis sometime this year. (Waymo has been planning something similar, but not in San Francisco.) 

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The companies may have wiggle room to determine what a safety-related disengagement would be.