While the autonomous vehicles or AVs operated as robotaxis by GM subsidiary Cruise are programmed for safety, California Department of Motor Vehicle figures show the self-driving Chevy Bolt EV units are still involved in a fair number of collisions, many of them involving human-driven vehicles rear-ending stationary or slowing Cruise EVs.
Today, GM Authority is taking a closer look at what Cruise recommends if the Cruise AV we’re in is involved in a collision with another vehicle or, in rare cases, an object.
Passengers are protected at the moment of the crash by normal airbags and seatbelts, with the Chevy Bolt EV itself given a five-star safety rating by the New Car Assessment Program or NCAP. The Cruise AV variant of the Bolt has some additional safety features as well, including floor reinforcements and a special battery housing that protects the battery and minimizes fire risk in an accident.
The Cruise AV immediately cuts power after an accident, again to reduce the chance of a lithium EV battery fire. The vehicle brakes to a stop at an appropriate spot if it is still in motion at the time, and sends an alert to Cruise itself.
Cruise advises passengers to stay in the Cruise AV and remain buckled into their seat if possible after a collision, unless the vehicle’s condition (such as being on fire or very likely to be struck by other vehicles) warrants abandoning it.
The passenger should wait for a Cruise Incident Expert to call them over the Cruise AV’s telephone system, which should happen almost immediately after the crash. If the rider is deaf or hard of hearing, the expert will use their supplied smartphone number instead for a text message conversation.
The passenger should tell the Cruise incident expert if they are hurt and any other relevant information about the situation. The expert will also use the Cruise AV’s cameras, if still functional, to check on the condition of the passenger, the vehicle, and the surroundings.
A second Cruise operator contacts local emergency services to coordinate with them and provide information about the collision and whether the passenger needs urgent assistance. If people outside the vehicle ask the passenger about the situation, the passenger can opt to tell them Cruise Support is coming or to roll down the window and let them talk directly to Cruise.
Assuming the passenger is unhurt and wants to continue their trip, they can choose to have another taxi service pick them up, or request a support specialist from Cruise to bring a company car and transport them to their destination within the city.
Cruise has continued its rapid expansion of self-driving robotaxi services, with data collection currently under way in Las Vegas, Nevada. The service surpassed 4 million driverless miles by mid-August 2023, though it halved its active vehicle fleet in San Francisco while a DMV investigation is ongoing following a crash involving a Cruise AV and a firetruck.