A tourist vehicle in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Cruise, a self-driving car startup owned by General Motors Co., temporarily halted all of its self-driving operations after collisions led to investigations, a dispute with state regulators, and the suspension of its licenses in California earlier this week.
The self-driving car maker, founded by CEO Kyle Vogt in 2013, had previously begun driverless operations in San Francisco, Austin, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and Miami.
GM said Tuesday that the company lost nearly $1.9 billion on Cruise through September of this year, including $732 million in the third quarter alone. On the same day, after GM’s third-quarter earnings update, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced it had suspended deployment and testing permits for Cruise in the state.
The DMV’s suspension orders follow a barrage of safety concerns and incidents since Cruz received approval in August to operate 24-hour robotaxi service in San Francisco. California Public Utilities Commission Also suspended A license gives a cruise company permission to transport passengers and charge a fee for rides in their motor vehicles in the state.
In one high-profile accident in early October, the driver of another car struck a pedestrian in San Francisco, causing it to collide with Cruise’s self-driving car. According to DMV records obtained by CNBC, Cruise’s self-driving vehicle came to a complete stop and “then attempted to perform a maneuver while the pedestrian was underneath the vehicle.”
“The AV traveled approximately 20 feet and reached a speed of 7 mph before reaching the next and final stop,” the DMV record said, and “the pedestrian remained under the vehicle.” The DMV wrote in its suspension orders to Cruz that the manufacturer’s “vehicles are not safe for public operation” and that they “may lack the ability to respond in a safe and appropriate manner during incidents involving pedestrians.”
on LinkedIn On Thursday night, Cruz wrote:
“The most important thing for us now is to take steps to rebuild public trust. Part of this involves taking a hard look inward and at how we operate at Cruz, even if that means doing things that are uncomfortable or difficult.”
In that spirit, we have decided to proactively pause autonomous operations across all of our fleets while we take time to examine our processes, systems and tools and consider how we can best operate in a way that earns the public’s trust.
This is not associated with any new road accidents, and supervised autonomous vehicle operations will continue. We believe this is the right thing to do during a period when we need to be more vigilant when it comes to risks, focus relentlessly on safety, and take steps to rebuild public trust.
The move comes two days after GM CEO Mary Barra said several times that the automaker believes cruise vehicles are safer than human drivers.
“We believe Cruise has tremendous opportunity for growth and expansion,” Barra said during the third-quarter earnings call. “Safety will be our gateway factor as we do that, and we continue to work with the cities in which we are deployed.” Saying that GM plans to support Cruz’s expansion.
Barra cited Cruise on Tuesday as an example of the company’s history of “defining the future of transportation,” and said the self-driving project “continues to push the boundaries of what autonomous vehicle technology can do for society.” Safety “is always at the forefront, and that’s something we’re constantly working on improving,” she said.
The company also said Thursday that Cruise will continue to operate its self-driving cars with human safety drivers behind the wheel and supervising the driving.
A GM spokesperson referred all questions to Cruise, and declined to comment on any involvement of the automaker or Barra in the decision to temporarily halt operations. Honda, a minority shareholder in Cruze, did not immediately respond for comment.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”