Cruise Confirms Taxi Service Suspension In San Francisco

Californian regulators have suspended, effectively immediately, Cruise LLC from operating its autonomous vehicles in the state.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that it suspended Cruise’s robotaxi permit “effective immediately.”

It comes after the General Motors-backed firm had recently been involved in a number of incidents. The most recent came after a Cruise robotaxi ran over a pedestrian who had already been struck by another vehicle driven by a human.

Image credit: Cruise

Pedestrian accident

The pedestrian was then hit by the Cruise robotaxi, and pinned beneath its rear wheels.

The critically injured female pedestrian reportedly had to be extracted from under the robotaxi with the help of the “jaws of life” before being taken to San Francisco General Hospital with “multiple traumatic injuries.”

The victim was still in a critical condition as of late Tuesday afternoon, according to the hospital.

Cruise had acknowledged the accident on X (aka Twitter) earlier this month.

“At approximately 9:30 pm on October 2, a human-driven vehicle struck a pedestrian while traveling in the lane immediately to the left of a Cruise AV,” Cruise stated. “The initial impact was severe and launched the pedestrian directly in front of the AV.”

“The AV then braked aggressively to minimize the impact,” it added. “The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene, and at the request of the police the AV was kept in place.”

“Our heartfelt concern and focus is the wellbeing of the person who was injured and we are actively working with police to help identify the responsible driver,” it concluded.

In another incident, a pod of Cruise’s robotaxis reportedly came to an abrupt stop and blocked traffic on a Friday night in a popular San Francisco neighbourhood.

Immediate suspension

In its statement on the matter on Tuesday, California Department of Motor Vehicles said public safety remains its top priority.

“The California DMV today notified Cruise that the department is suspending Cruise’s autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits, effective immediately,” it said. “The DMV has provided Cruise with the steps needed to apply to reinstate its suspended permits, which the DMV will not approve until the company has fulfilled the requirements to the department’s satisfaction. This decision does not impact the company’s permit for testing with a safety driver.”

Cruise then confirmed it had pulled its robotaxi service in the city, saying “we learned today at 10:30 am PT of the California DMV’s suspension of our driverless permits. As a result, we will be pausing operations of our driverless AVs in San Francisco.”

It comes just two months after another 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.

Image credit: Waymo

During the suspension, Cruise will be able to still operate its vehicles in autonomous mode, but with a human sitting in the driver’s seat to take control if something goes amiss.

Meanwhile the robotaxi service operated by Waymo continues its operation in the city.

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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