Self-driving cars suspended in California after major accident as UK calls for radical new laws

The Cruise autonomous vehicles

The Cruise autonomous vehicles have had their Californian AV permit suspended

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 25/10/2023

- 16:37

Experts have been calling for the UK to adopt more self-driving vehicle laws

California has banned the use of General Motors’ Cruise fleet of driverless cars, saying the vehicles were a “risk to the public”.

General Motors has been stripped of its autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permit by California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Cruise, which was acquired by General Motors in 2016, operates across the United States, with more than 100 “robotaxis” in San Francisco.

However, in recent months, some areas had suspended permits for their use over fears they had a higher risk of crashing and endangering other road users.

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The company had been testing the self-driving vehicles without safety drivers, relying purely on its autonomous technology to navigate the streets across the state.

A spokesperson for California’s DMV said the vehicles were not safe for the public’s operation based on performances of the vehicles.

They added that Cruise had "misrepresented any information related to the safety of the autonomous technology of its vehicles”.

The San Francisco-based company said the DMV was reviewing an incident from October 2, when one of its self-driving vehicles was braking but did not avoid striking a pedestrian previously struck by a hit-and-run driver, according to Reuters.

It was reported that the autonomous vehicle tried to pull over, but it continued ahead before coming to a stop, pulling the pedestrian along the road.

In a statement, Cruise said: "We will be pausing operations of our driverless AVs in San Francisco. Ultimately, we develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in an effort to save lives."

This comes as the Transport Committee argued that the UK had a “competitive advantage” over other countries with the development of self-driving vehicles.

A report from the Committee stated that a “regulatory framework” was needed to cover approval, liability, cybersecurity and the use of personal data with self-driving vehicles.

The report, which was published in September, stated that the UK could be left behind and suffer “lasting damage” unless new regulations were introduced.

Iain Stewart, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: “Thanks to the energy and creativity of the self-driving vehicles sector, the UK has a head start in developing a vision for how SDVs could be introduced.

“The Government’s strategy is one this Committee broadly welcomes. Self-driving vehicles are a great British success story in the making and we have a competitive advantage over many other countries.

“But all that hard work could be at risk if the Government doesn’t follow through and bring forward a Transport Bill in the next Parliamentary session, before the next general election.”

The report stated that self-driving vehicles would require well-maintained roads, the latest signage, nationwide connectivity and up-to-date digital information.

The Government and industry have invested around £600million into the sector since 2015, including a recent £34million boost to develop “cyber-resilient” self-driving vehicles.


Self-driving cars

There have been calls for stronger self-driving car laws in the UK


There are hopes that new details about self-driving vehicles will be unveiled during the King’s Speech on November 7, or in the Autumn Statement on November 22.

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