California Stops Cruise From Operating Without Drivers

Testing Can Continue With a Safety Driver
Cruise on the streets of Austin. Texas
A driverless Cruise vehicle seen on the streets of Austin, Texas. (Aaron Perryman/Transport Topics)

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California suspended General Motors Co.’s Cruise unit from operating driverless vehicles in the state, saying they’re not safe for public roads and that company officials misrepresented the details of an accident with a pedestrian.

The decision by the California Department of Motor Vehicles took effect immediately on Oct. 24, and the agency said there’s no set length for the suspension. It’s a big setback for Cruise, which is also operating in Phoenix and Austin, Texas, and laying the groundwork to expand to multiple U.S. cities and Japan.

The suspension comes after several high-profile accidents in San Francisco, including one involving a crash with a firetruck and another that gravely injured a pedestrian who was dragged 20 feet.

“Ultimately, we develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in an effort to save lives,” Cruise said in an email.

In one incident, a person landed in front of the Cruise vehicle after being hit by another car. The robotaxi braked hard but ran over the person. The vehicle then tried to pull over as a safety maneuver but continued driving for 20 feet at a speed of up to 7 miles per hour with the pedestrian still under the car, the DMV said. That may have caused further injury, the agency said.

The DMV says Cruise didn’t disclose video of the attempted pullover maneuver when it shared footage of the accident with agency officials Oct. 3. The agency said it learned of the vehicle’s subsequent movement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and then requested that Cruise provide the additional footage. The company’s omission hinders the agency’s ability to evaluate the safety of its autonomous vehicles, the DMV said.


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Cruise disputed the DMV’s characterization. Hannah Lindow, a spokeswoman for the company, said Cruise showed the full video to DMV officials several times Oct. 3.

In response to Cruise’s statement, a DMV spokesperson said in an email that the agency “stands by the facts contained in the order of suspension.”

Cruise is burning through cash, having gone through $1.4 billion this year. On GM’s earnings call earlier on Oct. 24, Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said the company believes in AV technology and plans to deploy it with Honda Motor Co. in Tokyo in 2026.

“We know from the data that Cruise AVs are involved in far fewer collisions than human drivers,” Barra told analysts on the call.

GM shares were trading at their lowest intraday levels in three years.

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