GM's Cruise suspends all robotaxi service in US after California regulators pull permits


General Motors has suspended services nationwide for its self-driving car unit Cruise after the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revoked its driving permits, claiming that the robotaxis are a risk to public safety.

Cruise was ordered to remove all its automated driverless cars from California roads on Tuesday.

“The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust. Part of this involves taking a hard look inwards and at how we do work at Cruise, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable or difficult,” Cruise said in a statement posted on X early Friday morning.

Part of Cruise’s statement also noted that the decision to pull its robotaxis out of service “isn't related to any new on-road incidents, and supervised AV [automated vehicle] operations will continue.”

But, the move comes just weeks after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its own investigation into Cruise’s automated driving system (ADS) technology amid more than 75 incidents reported to the agency, with at least a half a dozen specifically involving pedestrians.

Cruise racks up pedestrian incidents

The most recent incident took place on October 2nd involving a crash with a female pedestrian in San Francisco.

The woman was launched into the path of an oncoming Cruise car after being struck by another driver in a hit and run accident.

The Cruise automated diving system responded with a hard brake and the AV came to a full stop, but not before running over the woman and pinning her under the car.

The woman survived the ordeal but with severe injuries and rescuers were forced to call in the “Jaws of Life” to pull the self-driving car off of her.

Regulators say "Cruise's vehicles may lack the ability to respond in a safe and appropriate manner during incidents involving a pedestrian” and that the company has "misrepresented" the ADS technology's safety.

The California DMV also says GM’s Cruise hid video it had obtained of the accident, contributing to the department’s decision to suspend its driving permits across the state.

Meanwhile, Cruise denies the claims it withheld the video, saying it had shown the video to regulators multiple times, and called the accident an “extremely rare event” on X.

“Shortly after the incident, our team proactively shared information with the CA DMV, CPUC, and NHTSA, including the full video,” the company posted on Tuesday as part of its initial announcement to suspend services across the US.

“We’ve stayed in close contact with regulators to answer questions and assisted the police with identifying the vehicle of the hit and run driver,” it said.

NHSTA launches ADS probe

The NHSTA launched an official investigation into the Cruise automated driving systems earlier this month, but only released the news Thursday in a letter dated October 20th.

It said the Cruise vehicles equipped with the automated driving systems “may not be exercising appropriate caution around pedestrians in the roadway.

The agency claims the cars behavior increases the risk of a pedestrian collision and may result in “injury or death.”

The letter cites five new crash reports involving Cruise vehicles that braked with no obstacles ahead.

In one of the Cruise accidents to be investigated, a pedestrian was hit stepping into a crosswalk by the robotaxi going at 1.4 miles per hour through a green light. The pedestrian had to be taken away by ambulance.

The NHSTA documents also link to two separate Reddit threads from the summer showing near miss collisions with pedestrians walking in a designated crosswalk in San Francisco.

Reddit Cruise incident
Video of Cruise robotaxi nearly missing a mother and kids in a San Francisco crosswalk posted on Reddit.

The agency states it is seeking additional information, including video before and after the accidents by an extended deadline of November 3rd.

A history in question

Due to a series of accidents last year (not involving pedestrians) the NHSTA launched a formal safety probe into the Cruise cars back in December.

Additionally, this past April GM recalled 300 Cruise cars for an ADS software update after one of its units crashed into the back of a San Francisco Muni bus.

Cruise began operating its fleet of robotaxis in San Francisco on February 1st, 2022 but did not receive permission from the DMV to profit off rides until June.

Only one day after receiving permits to operate in the Golden City, Cruise had to recall 80 vehicles after one was involved in an incident that ended in minor injuries. Cruise said the problem was resolved after a software update.

Besides California, Cruise's driverless cars have been operating in Phoenix, Arizona; Houston, Austin, and Dallas, Texas; as well as Miami since late 2022.

Cruise said it welcomes "NHTSA's questions related to our safety record and operations."

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