GM Cruise Autonomous Car and Motorcycle Collide in San Francisco
General Motors acquired Cruise, an autonomous car start-up, last year, and has been testing its cars ever since in San Francisco and other places. Why not? “Our vehicles encounter challenging (and often absurd) situations up to 46 times more often than other places self-driving cars are tested,” according to Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt in this article at arstechnica.com.
In this “test” involving a little inner-city lane sharing on a three-lane one-way street, the car glanced off the side of the bike (or did the motorcycle graze the car?), causing the bike to wobble and fall over from a speed of 17 mph; the car reportedly was travelling 12 mph. The rider walked away with a sore shoulder and the blame for the accident, according to the SFPD.
Here’s the accident report:
That’s not even close to being the first autonomous collision in SF, but it might be the first involving a motorcycle. The arstechnica reporter included this handy link to the Department of Motor Vehicles list of accidents involving autonomous vehicles. I read all 27 of the 2017 entries, and in none of them was the autonomous vehicle at fault. Every one I read involves the autonomous vehicle getting rear-ended, sideswiped or clipped by a non-autonomous vehicle, often driven by a person described as “distracted.” In two reports, the driverless car was hit after it slowed or stopped for a scooter in one case, and a pedestrian in the other. In none of the reports did the autonomous vehicle turn left in front of, or pull out in front of an oncoming vehicle – our main cause of concern as motorcyclists.
Meanwhile in my neck of SoCal, the Orange County Register reports on yet another fatal motorcycle collision yesterday morning, which judging from this photo, looks like a clear example of a car turning left in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
MO’s deepest and sincere condolences to the family of the unnamed 68-year old Harley rider the 24-year-old driver of this car killed. Maybe autonomous vehicles will be better for us than we realize, and the sooner the better?