Cruise, a tech startup owned by General Motors, announced a suspension of all driverless operations across the United States following the revocation of its permits by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The suspension came in the wake of a recent accident in San Francisco, where one of Cruise’s autonomous vehicles was involved in a collision with a pedestrian.
The California DMV accused Cruise of failing to disclose the complete details of the October 2 collision. In response, Cruise decided to pause its driverless operations nationwide, aiming to rebuild public trust by taking time to review its processes, systems, and tools.
While Cruise operates in several states, including Arizona, Florida, and Texas, officials from those states did not immediately provide comments on the matter. Arizona had previously expressed its monitoring of the situation, while Texas and Florida do not have a permitting process for autonomous vehicles.
The October 2 accident involved a pedestrian who was struck by a human driver in a lane adjacent to a Cruise vehicle, leading the pedestrian to be thrown into the path of the self-driving Cruise car. Despite the Cruise vehicle applying its brakes, it could not avoid running over the pedestrian, as stated by the company. The vehicle came to a stop but later continued to drive with the pedestrian trapped underneath it for approximately 20 feet.
Cruise claimed that it shared the complete video of the incident with state authorities, although the California DMV alleged that they were not aware of the pedestrian being pulled under the car until another unspecified government agency informed them.
Cruise vehicles are designed to pull over in risky situations to ensure safety compliance with California regulations. The human driver who initially struck the pedestrian fled the scene and remains unlocated, while the pedestrian was hospitalized in critical condition.
The incident, which resulted in a self-driving car causing a serious injury, fueled concerns from critics who argue that autonomous technology may not be safe. Advocates, on the other hand, contend that self-driving technology holds the potential to be safer than human drivers, considering the high number of traffic-related fatalities in the U.S. each year.
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Cruise, headquartered in San Francisco, is one of two startups operating a commercial ride-hailing service in the city without human drivers. The other startup, Waymo, affiliated with Google, remained unaffected by California’s decision and continues its operations in multiple states. Cruise clarified that its decision to halt operations was unrelated to any new on-road incidents and affirmed that it would continue to operate vehicles with safety drivers on board. The duration of this voluntary suspension was not disclosed.