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  • By John R. Quain

Cruise Self-Driving Car Crash Results in Injuries

California DMV reported that a Toyota Prius collided with a Cruise robo-taxi in early June in San Francisco. Unlike previous Cruise fender benders, this is the first incident for GM that involved injuries to the occupants of both vehicles.

Fortunately, according to the accident report, the injuries were minor. Based on the police write up, on June 3 the Cruise autonomous car had signaled and was making a left-hand turn at the intersection of Geary and Spruce when the Prius, coming in the opposite direction in the right-hand turn lane failed to turn. The Cruise AV stopped when it detected the Toyota was not going to turn, but the Prius still hit the GM in the rear passenger side, causing serious damage to the car.

The accident underscores the biggest challenge to autonomous vehicles: Dealing with the human drivers of other cars. Most of the accidents (really, fender benders) involving Cruise test vehicles over the past couple of years in San Francisco have involved impatient human drivers tagging GM's white compacts. In other words, it's usually the human driver's fault. Sometimes the situation is exacerbated by overly cautious self-driving software. (I've experienced the road rage from other drivers that an AV can cause.)

The accident also raises the question of, how safe will be safe enough for autonomous vehicles to be accepted by the public? While human drivers are still on the road, as Elvis Costello said, accidents will happen. At least if this one goes to traffic court, with the AV recording and telemetry available, the judge will know who to blame.


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