Cruise, a Self-Driving Car Startup, Faces Obstacles Following a Pedestrian Crash

GM-Owned Driverless Car Startup Cruise Faces Setbacks and Controversies

San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle startup Cruise, owned by General Motors (GM), has had a tumultuous year marked by setbacks and controversies. The company, which had high hopes for its expansion plans, is now under investigation and faces an uncertain future.

In early 2022, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt expressed optimism about the company’s growth and highlighted the deployment of its self-driving cars in several cities. However, in October, a Cruise driverless car struck a pedestrian in San Francisco, causing severe injuries and setting off a chain of events.

The incident led to Vogt’s resignation and GM withdrawing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. Cruise is now facing potential fines and is under investigation for the incident, which cast a shadow over the company’s reputation.

Prior to the pedestrian accident, tensions surrounding self-driving cars were already mounting in San Francisco. Residents reported near collisions and accidents involving robotaxis from Cruise and Waymo, another autonomous vehicle company. An activist group called Safe Street Rebel used orange traffic cones to immobilize the driverless cars, protesting against the companies.

Cruise and Waymo faced additional challenges with San Francisco’s police and fire departments, who viewed the driverless cars as a hindrance to their operations. These departments considered the vehicles a nuisance and obstacles on the city’s streets.

Following the pedestrian accident, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ordered Cruise to reduce its fleet and halt its operations. Cruise was accused of withholding video footage of the incident from the DMV, which attracted criticism for its response to the incident.

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In response to the ongoing investigations, Cruise underwent a recall and grounded nearly 1,000 of its vehicles. The company further conducted a third-party safety review and an internal investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also launched an investigation into Cruise. These multiple investigations and the negative publicity surrounding Cruise have prompted the company to make significant changes.

Cruise laid off a quarter of its staff and experienced the resignation of its CEO and several other top executives. The controversies surrounding Cruise have had a ripple effect on the self-driving car industry, casting doubts over claims made by Cruise and Waymo regarding the safety of their vehicles.

Both companies had released studies asserting that their autonomous vehicles were involved in fewer crashes than human drivers. However, the lack of transparency and the occurrence of accidents comparable to those caused by human drivers undermined the companies’ safety narrative.

As Cruise battles through a turbulent period, the future of the self-driving car industry hangs in the balance, with concerns and questions raised over the readiness and safety of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

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