General Motors’ Cruise autonomous vehicle division has had a bumpy few months. A number of frustrating failures have caused massive traffic pileups, car accidents, and even injured pedestrians. There have been so many issues that the company is temporarily halting public testing and has issued a recall for some of its vehicles. Now, we’re learning that Cruise’s robotaxis aren’t as robotic as everyone thought, as the company recently told CNBC that it employs “remote assistant agents” (people) to help the vehicles navigate.
Cruise said it employs one human assistant for every 15 to 20 driverless vehicles but noted that they don’t steer or control the cars remotely, only providing “wayfinding intel.” Company CEO Kyle Vogt said that humans interact with the cars roughly four percent of the time, usually in difficult-to-navigate, tight urban areas.
Since the robotaxis are technically still in testing, it’s not all that surprising to hear that people occasionally have to get involved. However, it does speak to the amount of time and research left to do before autonomous vehicles are ready for primetime.
Cruise is currently in a holding pattern after one of its vehicles injured a pedestrian in California in early October. State officials ordered the company to halt operations after determining that it misrepresented the safety and functionality of its vehicles.
[Image: Iv-Olga via Shutterstock]
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