GM’s Cruise To Withdraw All Vehicles From Public Roads

General Motors’ self-driving division Cruise has confirmed that it is withdrawing all its vehicles off public roads in the US, amid an expanding safety investigation.

The confirmation came in a blog post on Tuesday in which it said that “in the coming days, we are also pausing our supervised and manual AV operations in the US.”

The withdraw comes amid a snowballing series of developments, after a pedestrian in San Francisco was critical injured after being dragged beneath a Cruise robotaxi for 20 feet (6 metres).

Image credit: Cruise

Pedestrian accident

Back in August, California state regulator the Public Utilities Commission, had approved an expansion that authorised around-the-clock rides (from both Cruise and Waymo) throughout San Francisco – the second most dense city in the US.

However that move had been opposed by transportation and safety agencies, such as the police and fire departments, as well as many residents, because of concerns about erratic driving and interference with their operations.

The approval had allowed both Cruise and Waymo to charge fares for rides at any time of day, and had further cemented San Francisco’s position as the home city for self-driving car services.

But then in October things began to change for Cruise, after a pedestrian was struck by vehicle driven by a hit-and-run driver, who fled the scene.

The pedestrian was unfortunately flung into the path of the Cruise robotaxi, and the person was then dragged beneath the robotaxi for 20 feet (6 metres) as it pulled over to the side of the road.

The critically injured female pedestrian was pinned beneath its rear wheels and had to be extracted from under the robotaxi with the help of the “jaws of life” by the Fire Department, before being taken to San Francisco General Hospital with “multiple traumatic injuries.”

Accident aftermath

Following the accident, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced that it had suspended Cruise’s robotaxi permit “effective immediately.”

Cruise later halted its operations nationwide, after California regulators had suspended the robotaxi operator’s license.

Then earlier this month Cruise confirmed it was “recalling” 950 driverless cars from the roads.

However the “recall” safety term is misleading as the GM division was issuing an over-the-air software update and not carrying out a physical recall of the vehicles.

Physical withdraw

But now in the blog post on Tuesday, Cruise confirmed that after a board meeting Monday at Cruise’s headquarters in San Francisco, the division will pause all public road operations – both supervised and manual.

The blog post also revealed the firm is carrying out a reorganisation, as well as some staff changes with Craig Glidden assuming the role of Chief Administrative Officer for Cruise.

Cruise also confirmed it is to hire a permanent Chief Safety Officer, and will retain a third-party safety expert in the coming weeks to perform a full assessment of Cruise’s safety operations and culture.

“On 26 October, 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,” it said. “In the coming days, we are also pausing our supervised and manual AV operations in the US, affecting roughly 70 vehicles.”

“This orderly pause is a further step to rebuild public trust while we undergo a full safety review,” it said. “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.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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