A joint study by The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and GM robotaxi subsidiary Cruise indicates self-driving taxis are involved in considerably fewer accidents than cabs with a human driver behind the wheel.
The study created a safety benchmark for human-driven taxis based on data from 5.6 million miles of ridehail driving information in order to compare human versus AV safety performance.
Overall, the study found human-driven taxis were involved in 64.9 collisions per million miles driven, while Cruise AVs were in 23 accidents per million miles. The human-driven taxis were in 32.5 collisions per million miles in which they were the primary cause of the accident versus 2 collisions for Cruise robotaxis, while 11.8 collisions per million miles carried a significant risk of injury for human vehicles versus 3 per million for Cruise.
The findings showed drastically lower rates of accidents and potential injuries for driverless vehicles compared to those with drivers. Data for both human-driven and self-driving taxis came from San Francisco and excluded accidents that occurred above speeds of 55 miles per hour.
While the findings indicate AV robotaxis are a considerably safer alternative to traditional cabs, it should be noted that Cruise and its parent company GM are the backers of the study.
Currently, a series of high-profile traffic snarls and a flurry of complaints continue to follow Cruise AVs wherever they are deployed. A swarm of Cruise AVs caused a traffic jam in Austin, Texas recently, unable to maneuver around each other “even though they’re all part of the same network” according to a witness. The snarl, called a “crowding event” by the company, was eventually resolved remotely.
Cruise has also been bombarded with complaints in the Texas city, ranging from simply blocking the way to occasional accidents, though most of the latter consist of a human-driven vehicle ramming a Cruise AV rather than vice versa.
Notably, however, and in keeping with the study’s findings, the recent incidents involving Cruise AVs have snarled traffic, but resulted in no fatalities or injuries.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt says the incidents are sensationalized by the media, summing up his position by saying “we’re talking about a 15-minute traffic delay for something that, on the other hand, is providing a massive and quite measurable public benefit to the community.”