Autonomous car technology is still years away from becoming a mainstream reality. Automakers are making advancements, but the technology has to contend with some serious growing pains before people can soundly nap during their Monday morning commutes. A recent crash involving a Cruise taxi and another vehicle is a reminder that the technology is far from perfect and could even be dangerous.
The crash happened one day after Cruise received the green light to operate and offer services in San Francisco, and it resulted in the occupants of both vehicles receiving injuries. It's still unclear what exactly happened between the two. A San Francisco Police Department spokesperson told Automotive News that they could not find a crash report related to the incident.
Gallery: GM Cruise Driverless Taxi
The report that Cruise filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which AN linked to, reveals that the Cruise taxi was in autonomous mode and stopped in traffic at the time of the crash. A Toyota Prius broadsided the Cruise vehicle, and the report notes that the taxi received "major" damage to its rear and side in the incident.
A Cruise spokesperson declined to explain why the vehicle stopped in traffic to Automotive News. The crash has led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a special crash investigation. According to the publication, this is the 45th one since 2016 that the agency has opened and the first one for Cruise. In recent months, NHTSA has been increasing its scrutiny of automakers' semi-self-driving and advanced driver-assist technologies.
Automakers and tech companies will continue to fine-tune the technology. It won't arrive overnight, and there could be hurdles in the future we haven't even thought about yet. In April of this year, police had to stop a driverless Cruise taxi for failing to have its headlights turned on. In late June, more than a dozen Cruise taxis blocked a San Francisco street that required humans to come to fix. And the technology is still in its infancy.
Sources: Automotive News, California DMV