While our investigation is ongoing and we remain in contact with city officials and regulators, we wanted to provide an update on our preliminary analysis on the incident involving an emergency vehicle colliding with a Cruise AV.
First and foremost, our primary concern remains with our passenger and their well-being. We have been in contact to offer support and will remain in touch.
In terms of what occurred around the scene of the collision there are many aspects that looked typical from the AV’s perspective and several factors that added complexity to this specific incident.
The AV 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.
During the course of more than 3 million miles of fully autonomous driving in San Francisco we’ve seen an enormous number of emergency vehicles – more than 168,000 interactions just in the first 7 months of this year alone. Our first responders are trying to balance keeping all of us safe while quickly responding to emergency scenes and we’re grateful for their work and dedication.
We realize that we’ll always encounter challenging situations, which is why continuous improvement is central to our work. 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.