You might think it looks like any other vehicle, but the Cruise AV developed by General Motors was built from the start to operate safely on its own – with no driver in control. A scary thought but the company stressed that safety has been engineered into the vehicle in every single step of design, development, manufacturing, testing and validation.
The Cruise AV is the result of intensely focused development, and countless hours of real-world testing and validation. It doesn’t drink and drive, doesn’t text and drive, doesn’t get upset, doesn’t get tired, never gets distracted and doesn’t produce any emissions.
With its advanced sensor systems, this prototype car has the capability to see the environment all around it, day and night. It is designed to identify pedestrians in a crosswalk, or an object darting suddenly into its path, and to respond accordingly. It can manoeuvre through construction cones, yield to emergency vehicles and react to avoid collisions.
By integrating GM’s self-driving system into the car from the beginning, and through close coordination between the hardware and software teams, it has been possible to evaluate potential failure modes for all systems, and to address them throughout development to ensure a safe and reliable product. This comprehensive, integrated approach to safety, combined with testing in one of the most complex environments in the world, allows the next step in motoring — elimination of the steering wheel, pedals and other manual controls — from the car.
GM claims that the Cruise AV has the potential to provide a level of safety far beyond the capabilities of humans. As experience and iterative improvements continue, the company will advance closer to its Zero Crashes vision.
GM has filed a Safety Petition with the US Department of Transportation for its fourth-generation self-driving Cruise AV to be permitted to be used on roads for trials. The initial deployment from 2019 will be a control one and the self-driving cars will travel only in known geo-fenced boundaries, and only on roads for which the company has developed high-definition map data. They will also operate only under known operational conditions and constraints that apply to the entire fleet.
The company’s research team will constantly monitor the operation of the cars and collect data on their performance. As this data is used to identify opportunities for improvements in self-driving operation, updates can be made to the software in the entire fleet so the cars will continue to continuously be refined and improved.