Cruise Robotaxi Appears to "Hunt" Pedestrians in a Weird Video, Cruise Says It's OK

In a creepy video recently shared on TikTok, a Cruise driverless taxi appears to purposely "hunt" pedestrians crossing the street. Cruise explained the car's strange trajectory and said it acted "in line with the safety design."
Cruise robotaxi appears to "hunt" pedestrians in a weird video 6 photos
Photo: wail.aldahni via TikTok | Edited
Cruise robotaxi appears to "hunt" pedestrians in a weird videoCruise robotaxi appears to "hunt" pedestrians in a weird videoCruise robotaxi appears to "hunt" pedestrians in a weird videoCruise robotaxi appears to "hunt" pedestrians in a weird videoCruise robotaxi appears to "hunt" pedestrians in a weird video
Cruise robotaxi service is one of the only two allowed to offer commercial services, next to Waymo's. The company owned by General Motors hasn't been spared the controversies, with a couple of high-profile crashes casting doubts on its ability to deliver autonomous driving. At some point, people even spoke of a "chaotic safety culture" within the company, raising suspicions it deserved the operating permit in San Francisco.

Still, Cruise's driverless cars are the closest thing to autonomous vehicles on public roads today, even though they operate in geofenced areas. This is why they classify as SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicles. On the plus side, most accidents involving Cruise robotaxis were minor hiccups or caused by other cars.

On a couple of occasions, though, Cruise was forced to issue safety recalls to fix the autonomous driving software problems that were thought to have contributed to the accident. Yet, we've never seen or heard of a Cruise robotaxi (or one from another AV company, for that matter) trying to cause a crash purposely.

A video recently shared on TikTok shows a Cruise driverless car aiming at pedestrians crossing the street as if it was actively "hunting" them. People watching the creepy video joked about it, saying that's what AI would do when it gets tired of being abused or laughed at. Jokes aside, the video showcases a situation when Cruise's self-driving software malfunctioned, putting people in danger. Luckily, no one was hurt, and the car continued its journey.

The video caught Cruise's attention, and the company gave a weird explanation. Apparently, there was another pedestrian to the right of the vehicle, who was not visible in the video. Cruise claims this person lunged in front of the car, causing it to briefly maneuver to the left to avoid contact. To add insult to injury, Cruise says the car's sensors "accurately tracked all pedestrians" and acted "in line with the safety design" to minimize risks.

Still, Cruise doesn't offer any evidence to support its claims. If it had a video of the obscured pedestrian to the right, releasing it would've cleared the situation. People also questioned Cruise software's decision to endanger three pedestrians to avoid one. Considering the car was moving slowly then, braking would have been a better choice. No matter how hard Cruise tries to say that its car did the right thing, people are unconvinced. Undoubtedly, the NHTSA should look into this more closely than Cruise did.

The company recently bragged about expanding operating hours in San Francisco. With the geofenced area also growing, Cruise robotaxis could find themselves in more awkward situations. Traffic is more dense and complicated during the daytime, posing new challenges to Cruise's autonomous driving software. The company is also working toward launching the Origin pods, which don't have a steering wheel or pedals.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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