A couple weeks ago, GM's Cruise Automation released a remarkable self-driving video from the streets of San Fransisco that Driverless analyzed in detail. And now they've just released a new one giving more insight into their growing mastery of the complex roads in San Francisco, specifically, the Potrero Hill and Mission Dolores neighborhoods.
Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, had this to say:
This video was captured from one of our autonomous vehicles during a series of back to back test rides. No advance planning was done, and this was captured in a single take. The operator selected a random destination using the Cruise mobile app, pushed a button, and the vehicle started moving. Rides like this occur hundreds of times per day across our test fleets.
This video is better quality than the last one, although sped up in a similar manner, and shows Cruise's test vehicle Albatross, an autonomous 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, hard at work. Albatross is just one of many of Cruise's test fleet, of which the full list of names can be seen in Cruise's filing for the California DMV's 2016 Disengagement Reports.
In response to online criticisms that there was no proof in the previous video that the car was actually self-driving, this video includes an inset video (picture-in-picture, or PiP) of the steering wheel. The safety driver can be seen paying close attention to the vehicle, but at no point intervenes and causes a disengagement of the automated driving system.
We again analyzed the sped up video to highlight all of the important Level 4 skills Albatross showed off. The time references below are for the time displayed in the video, not the video's time.
- 2:25 - The Cruise car sees road construction across the other side of the intersection, and makes a smooth left turn across the intersection. Some developers have still to demonstrate that they can cope with the complexities of construction zones.
- 8:30 - The Cruise car negotiates a left turn at a four-way stop with ease. Several years ago, Google had pointed out that self-driving vehicles have to be assertive at busy four-way stops, otherwise human drivers won't always allow them their turn to go.
- 13:50 - Going over a very busy four-way intersection, the Cruise car has to deal with slow movement, as well as the car in front turning left while an oncoming car turns left across its path.
- 16:00 - At a busy four-way stop, the Cruise car deals with a cyclist that appears to go out of turn crossing in front of it.
- 18:20 - The Cruise car makes a left turn and then gets stuck behind a delivery truck. It waits as a couple of other vehicles overtake it, then safely makes its move around the truck. Perhaps a human driver would have reacted more quickly, or been more assertive and not allowed a couple of vehicles to pass?
This video further reinforces GM and Cruise Automation's standing in the autonomous vehicle development community, following their encouraging CA DMV Disengagement Report. It is obvious from Vogt's statement that Cruise are doing hundreds of these random pick-up and drop-off trips per day.
Although we have only seen video from San Francisco, we also know, from the ever-helpful Reddit community, that Cruise vehicles have been doing a great deal of testing in the Phoenix area.
With GM's major $500 million investment in e-hailing company Lyft, it seems clear that the scene is being set for GM vehicles, powered by Cruise Automation technology, to be rolled out on the Lyft network at some point in the future.
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