GM autonomous driving subsidiary Cruise recently announced a new partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, stating that it shares MADD’s objective of “no more victims of drunk/drugged driving.”
Cruise notes its autonomous vehicles or AVs “cannot drive under the influence, don’t get drowsy, and don’t text while driving.” and asserts widespread use of GM AVs will lower traffic accidents and fatalities.
Cruise observes that an average of 37 traffic fatalities occur daily in the U.S. using 2021 data, with the highest level of deaths concentrated near the summer holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. It further points out that driver impairment by alcohol or drugs is involved in around 31 percent of all fatal accidents.
The expansion of GM driverless service will help reduce these fatalities. Tess Rowland, president of MADD, agrees, stating that MADD is “inspired by technology’s potential to ensure nobody needs to worry about the potentially reckless behavior of drivers around them.”
Rowland added that MADD is “grateful to Cruise for their partnership” and remarked that the partners “can create a nation where there are No More Victims.”
Cruise continues to test and develop its AVs, with its robotaxis surpassing 2 million driverless miles by May 30th of this year. The rapid increase in miles successfully traveled results both from Cruise operating increased numbers of AVs and its expansion of robotaxi service to new markets beyond the initial San Francisco test area.
Cruise robotaxis are now being tested in Austin, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona. Houston and Dallas are also targeted for expansion, with potential customers able to join an online waitlist for a ride once Cruise robotaxi service becomes available there.
Among other features, Cruise is testing autonomous honking as a way to make interactions between human drivers and AVs safer. The use of honking cuts down on collisions between human-driven vehicles and AVs by 80 percent according to the robotaxi service provider. Cruise President Kyle Vogt described the sound as an inoffensive, but effective “friendly double chirp honk” rather than a steady blaring of the horn.
While Cruise AV testing continues to advance, the process isn’t entirely trouble-free. San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson claims that robotaxis are “not ready for prime time,” after multiple incidents in which AVs blocked traffic, fire engines, or police. In fact, Nicholson alleges there are 160,000 such incidents yearly in San Francisco alone.
Meanwhile, GM rival Volkswagen is testing its own autonomous robotaxi concept. The first 10 ID. Buzz autonomous test vehicles will hit the streets of Austin, Texas sometime in July.