Cruise takes all its driverless vehicles off public roads following a pedestrian collision, expands safety investigation
Cruise, the autonomous vehicle division owned by General Motors, announced on Tuesday a halt to all public road operations of its driverless vehicles, including supervised and manual activities. This move expands upon last month’s pause of driverless operations.
The decision follows an incident in early October when one of Cruise’s vehicles was involved in a “pedestrian collision in San Francisco last month,” prompting California regulators to impose a ban. To address this, Cruise recalled all 950 of its cars for software updates, CNBC reported.
Earlier, the company had halted all of its driverless operations after the collision on October 2 when a pedestrian was dragged into the path of a Cruise Robotaxi by another car’s human driver. The pedestrian was initially hit by a human driver in a different car, propelling her into the path of the Cruise Robotaxi.
In a blog post, Cruise said the pause was imposed as a step to rebuild public trust and ensure a thorough safety review. The company intends to continue operating vehicles in closed-course training environments while maintaining an active simulation program to advance AV (Autonomous Vehicle) technology.
“This orderly pause is a further step to rebuild public trust while we undergo a full safety review. We will continue to operate our vehicles in closed course training environments and maintain an active simulation program in order to stay focused on advancing AV technology.”
Cruise has faced safety concerns since gaining approval in August for 24/7 robotaxi service in San Francisco. Last week, it announced the recall of 950 robotaxis after the pedestrian collision. The California Department of Motor Vehicles also suspended Cruise’s deployment and testing permits for its autonomous vehicles in October.
The suspension of public road trips follows a board meeting at Cruise’s San Francisco headquarters, coupled with organizational changes and increased oversight from General Motors. Craig Glidden, GM’s EVP of legal and policy, will assume the role of Cruise’s chief administrative officer, overseeing legal, policy, communications, and finance teams.
Additionally, Cruise plans to hire an independent safety expert to assess safety operations and culture, building upon the recent appointment of a chief safety officer. Engineering consulting firm Exponent, previously investigating the Oct. 2 crash, will now conduct a comprehensive review of Cruise’s tech and safety systems.
The suspension has also affected the company’s workforce, leading to contractor layoffs. Cruise clarified that these layoffs are a result of the temporary suspension of driverless activities.
In GM’s third-quarter earnings update, it reported a loss of approximately $1.9 billion on Cruise through September 2023.
Founded in 2013 and acquired by General Motors in 2016, Cruise focuses on developing driverless vehicles capable of navigating city driving. Its Chevrolet Bolt EV fleet operates in San Francisco, testing autonomous technology for future mobility. General Motors acquired Cruise in March 2016 for an undisclosed amount. Reports from several media outlets have placed the number from “north of $500 million,” to $580 million to over $1 billion.
Below is an updated message posted on Cruise’s website.
11.14 2023 Update:
On November 13, the Cruise Board held its regularly scheduled quarterly meeting at Cruise headquarters in San Francisco. The Board took further steps to enhance safety and transparency as we work to build a better Cruise, including:
Craig Glidden to assume the role of Chief Administrative Officer for Cruise
As we posted in our blog last week, we have initiated workstreams in four key areas to identify potential improvements to how we operate. We are pleased that Craig Glidden, GM’s Executive Vice President of Legal and Policy and Cruise board member, will be expanding his support of Cruise and working closely with Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt and the Cruise Senior Leadership Team to oversee the workstreams around Transparency and Community Engagement. Cruise’s Legal & Policy, Communications, and Finance teams will report directly to Craig, and he will assume the title of Chief Administrative Officer for Cruise. He will continue in his current role at GM. Cruise will benefit from leveraging Craig and GM’s experience and best practices when it comes to transparency and engagement around safety.
Retention of an independent expert to conduct a comprehensive safety assessment
We announced last week that Cruise will hire a permanent Chief Safety Officer who will report directly to Kyle. In addition, the Cruise Board will retain a third-party safety expert in the coming weeks to perform a full assessment of Cruise’s safety operations and culture. These independent findings will help further guide and inform the work we have initiated.
Expansion of Exponent’s scope
Cruise previously hired the independent, third-party engineering consulting firm, Exponent, to conduct a technical root cause analysis of the October 2 incident. That work is ongoing, and the Board plans to expand Exponent’s remit to include a comprehensive review of our safety systems and technology.
Voluntary pause of supervised and manual operations
On October 26, we announced a pause of all our driverless operations while we take time to examine our processes, systems, and tools and improve how we operate. In the coming days, we are also pausing our supervised and manual AV operations in the U.S., affecting roughly 70 vehicles. This orderly pause is a further step to rebuild public trust while we undergo a full safety review. We will continue to operate our vehicles in closed course training environments and maintain an active simulation program in order to stay focused on advancing AV technology.
Cruise is dedicated to rebuilding trust and operating at the highest standards of safety. We are committed to keeping our customers, regulators, and the public informed throughout this process.