Self-Driving Car Conquers Busy San Francisco Streets

A GM self-driving car recently conquered the busy streets of San Francisco. With no pre-planning involved, the self-driving car handled four-way stop signs, busy intersections, bikers and more.

General Motors has released a new video of its Cruise Automation self-driving car driving through the extremely busy streets of San Francisco. Watch the video above, it’s quite impressive.

The video shows an all-electric, self-driving Chevy Bolt named “Albatross” driving through the Potrero Hill and Mission Dolores neighborhoods, handling four-way stop signs, busy intersections, bikers and more. The video, which is sped up, comes after GM received criticism for another recent video of its self-driving car that online viewers felt didn’t offer any proof the car was actually self-driving.

This latest video offers a picture-in-picture view of the human safety driver’s hands, which at no time during the video take control of the wheel to cause a disengagement with the self-driving system.

“This video was captured from one of our autonomous vehicles during a series of back-to-back test rides,” says Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, which was purchased by GM in 2016. “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.”

The route Albatross took in San Francisco. (Credit: Reddit user andmySCOREis)

It’s hard to imagine a tougher environment for a self-driving car to navigate than the Potrero Hill and Mission Dolores neighborhoods. Albatross’ impressive performance is in line with the recent disengagement report from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. According to the report, GM’s self-driving cars logged 9,776 autonomous miles in California in 2016, disengaging just 181 times.

GM has a long way to go to catch up to Waymo, which is crushing the self-driving competition, but check out the GIFs below to see how GM’s self-driving car handled some tricky situations.

The self-driving car encounters road construction and makes a smooth left turn across the intersection.

At a busy four-way stop, the car sees and stops for a cyclist before continuing on its way.

GM invested $500 million in Lyft in 2015 with the hope of building a fleet of autonomous ride-hail vehicles. It appears GM is well on its way.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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