Cruise, the self-driving car company owned by General Motors, has been under scrutiny following allegations that their robotaxis are not truly autonomous and rely heavily on human intervention. In response, Cruise CEO and founder Kyle Vogt addressed the issue on Hacker News, confirming the existence of a remote assistance team. This article will delve into the details and implications of Cruise’s reliance on human operators, as well as the recent setback the company faced due to a collision involving one of their driverless vehicles.
1. Cruise CEO Confirms the Existence of Remote Assistance Team
In his response on Hacker News, Vogt acknowledged the presence of a remote assistance team, stating that Cruise AVs are remotely assisted only 2-4% of the time in complex urban environments. He emphasized the importance of human intervention in certain situations, defending the company’s stance on the value of having humans review critical decisions made by the autonomous vehicles.
2. Collisions Lead to Temporary Suspension of Driverless Operations
Following a collision in San Francisco that injured a pedestrian, Cruise made the decision to halt all of its driverless operations. This incident not only harmed the reputation of Cruise but also resulted in California regulators revoking the company’s permits to operate driverless vehicles, mandating the presence of a human driver onboard.
3. Delving into the Safety Issues at Cruise
A New York Times story shed light on the safety issues faced by Cruise, which may have contributed to the collision and subsequent setback. The article revealed that workers at Cruise intervened every 2.5 to 5 miles to assist the company’s autonomous vehicles. Vogt clarified that these intervention sessions were initiated by the vehicles themselves, often proactively before it was certain they would require help.
4. Frequency and Efficiency of Remote Assistance Sessions
Addressing concerns about the frequency of remote assistance sessions, a Cruise spokesperson stated that such sessions are triggered approximately every four to five miles, not every 2.5 miles as reported in the New York Times. The majority of these sessions are quickly resolved within seconds through simple confirmation requests. Moreover, more than 98% of sessions are answered within three seconds, indicating the efficiency of Cruise’s remote assistance system.
5. Remote Assistance Ratio and Training
The article also tackles questions surrounding the ratio of remote assistance advisors to driverless vehicles and the training they receive. The spokesperson revealed that there is roughly one remote assistant for every 15-20 driverless AVs during operations. Additionally, training details of remote assistance workers at Cruise were not provided, leaving room for further clarification on the qualifications and expertise required for these roles.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt’s response addressed concerns regarding the company’s reliance on human operators to achieve autonomous driving. While acknowledging the presence of a remote assistance team, Vogt emphasized the low percentage of remote assistance sessions required and the value of human oversight in complex scenarios. The recent collision and subsequent suspension of driverless operations highlight the challenges faced by Cruise in maintaining the trust and confidence of regulators and the public. Nonetheless, Cruise remains committed to refining its autonomous technology and striking a balance between human assistance and true autonomy.