GM's autonomous vehicle unit Cruise is now suspending driverless operations all across America.
The move comes just days after California regulators revoked Cruise's license for driverless vehicles, declaring that Cruise's AVs posed an "an unreasonable risk to public safety" and "are not safe for the public's operation," also arguing that Cruise had misrepresented information related to its safety. And the Associated Press reports that Cruise "is also being investigated by U.S. regulators after receiving reports of potential risks to pedestrians and passengers." Human-supervised operations of Cruise's autonomous vehicles, or AVs, will continue — including under California's indefinite suspension...
Earlier this month, a Cruise robotaxi notably ran over a pedestrian who had been hit by another vehicle driven by a human. The pedestrian became pinned under a tire of the Cruise vehicle after it came to a stop — and then was pulled for about 20 feet (six meters) as the car attempted to move off the road. The DMV and others have accused Cruise of not initially sharing all video footage of the accident, but the robotaxi operator pushed back — saying it disclosed the full video to state and federal officials. In a Tuesday statement, Cruise said it cooperating with regulators investigating the October 2 accident — and that its engineers are working on way for its robotaxis to improve their response "to this kind of extremely rare event." Still, some are skeptical of Cruise's response to the accident and point to lingering questions. Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor who studies automated vehicles, wants to know "who knew what when?" at Cruise, and maybe GM, following the accident.
Also earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [or NHTSA] announced that it was investigating Cruise's autonomous vehicle division after receiving reports of incidents where vehicles may not have used proper caution around pedestrians in roadways, including crosswalks. The NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation said it received two reports involving pedestrian injuries from Cruise vehicles. It also identified two additional incidents from videos posted to public websites, noting that the total number is unknown.
In December of last year, the NHSTA opened a separate probe into reports of Cruise's robotaxis that stopped too quickly or unexpectedly quit moving, potentially stranding passengers. Three rear-end collisions that reportedly took place after Cruise AVs braked hard kicked off the investigation. According to an October 20 letter that was made public Thursday, since beginning this probe the NHSTA has received five other reports of Cruise AVs unexpectedly breaking with no obstacles ahead. Each case involved AVs operating without human supervision and resulted in rear-end collisions.
Cruise emphasized on Twitter/X that their nationwide suspension of driverless testing "isn't related to any new on-road incidents." Instead, "We have decided to proactively pause driverless operations across all of our fleets while we take time to examine our processes, systems, and tools and reflect on how we can better operate in a way that will earn public trust."
Their announcement began by stressing that "The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust."