Three men standing in a warehouse managing ending inventory counts

General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit, Cruise, has announced the recall of all 950 of its autonomous cars to implement software updates, following an incident in early October where one of its vehicles dragged a pedestrian to the side of a San Francisco street.

The company revealed in documents released by U.S. safety regulators on November 8th that with the updated software, Cruise vehicles will remain stationary in similar incidents in the future.

The October 2nd crash led Cruise to suspend its driverless operations nationwide after California regulators deemed its cars a danger to public safety. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked Cruise’s license, which was operating passenger transport services without human drivers throughout San Francisco.

During the crash, a pedestrian was struck by another vehicle with a human driver, causing them to be propelled into the path of a Cruise autonomous vehicle. Although the Cruise initially stopped, it subsequently moved to the right to clear the traffic, dragging the person about 20 feet forward and critically injuring them.

Cruise asserts that it has already updated software in test vehicles supervised by human safety drivers. The driverless fleet will receive the new software before resuming operations.

Despite determining that a similar crash could occur every 10 million to 100 million miles without the update, Cruise initiated the recall to enhance safety across its fleet, stating, “We strive to continually improve and to make these events even rarer.”

Following the incident, Cruise has decided to appoint a chief safety officer, engage a law firm to review its response to the crash, hire a third-party engineering firm to identify the technical cause, and adopt safety and transparency “pillars” companywide.

The problems faced by Cruise could potentially impede the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles without human drivers and may lead to stronger federal regulations for such vehicles, which are expanding passenger services in numerous cities nationwide.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into four reports of Cruise vehicles not exercising proper caution around pedestrians. Cruise, in documents filed with NHTSA, indicated that its automated driving system inaccurately characterized the collision, leading to inappropriate vehicle responses.

While the Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Cruise’s license, citing concerns about the misrepresentation of safety information regarding its autonomous technology, Cruise disputes these claims, asserting it disclosed full video footage of the accident to state and federal officials.

General Motors Co. has high expectations for Cruise, aiming for annual revenue of $1 billion by 2025, significantly surpassing the $106 million in revenue generated last year.