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U.S. safety regulators investigating GM’s Cruise self-driving car system

A Cruise vehicle in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday Feb. 2, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. automotive safety officials have opened a formal probe into the autonomous driving system used by General Motors’ self-driving vehicle unit Cruise.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received complaints about the self-driving vehicles – retrofitted Chevrolet Bolt EVs – engaging in “inappropriately hard braking” or becoming “immobilized while operating,” according to a filing.

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Officials said although the two types of incidents appear to be separate from one another, they each result in the Cruise vehicles becoming unexpected roadway obstacles.

“This may introduce multiple potential hazards such as a collision with a Cruise vehicle, risk to a stranded passenger exiting an immobilized Cruise vehicle, or obstruction of other traffic including emergency vehicles,” NHTSA said in the filing.

The probe involves about 240 of the vehicles equipped with the software system, according to NHTSA.

The investigation, which was opened earlier this week, comes as Cruise awaits regulatory approval to expand its robotaxi service in San Francisco from about 30% of the city to the entire municipality.

Representatives with GM and Cruise, a majority-owned unit of the Detroit automaker, did not immediately respond for comment.

NHTSA said it has received multiple reports of both incidents, including three instances of hard braking that resulted in the car being struck from behind. The safety agency said the specific number of the vehicles that have become immobilized on the road is unknown, however such incidents have been reported by media outlets.

NHTSA said the Office of Defects Investigation will determine “the scope and severity of the potential problem and fully assess the potential safety-related issues posed by these two types of incidents.”

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