Cruise, the self-driving arm of General Motors, said late today it had halted its robotaxi service across the US and would no longer operate its vehicles without safety drivers behind the wheel. That decision to hit the brakes comes two days after California regulators suspended the driverless-car company’s permit in San Francisco, alleging that Cruise had failed to disclose details of an early October collision that sent a woman to the hospital with serious injuries.
Cruise’s decision shuts down its driverless taxi services offered in Austin and Phoenix, which had continued to operate even after the California suspension. Its fleets in Dallas, Houston, and Miami, where Cruise has been preparing for commercial launches, will no longer hit the road without humans in the driver’s seat. The company says its orange and white Chevrolet Bolts will still be steered by software, but safety drivers will always be behind the wheel to take over if the technology goes wrong.
Cruise said curtailing its operations will provide “time to examine our processes, systems, and tools and reflect on how we can better operate in a way that will earn public trust,” in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Cruise has become one of the two most prominent US self-driving projects in recent years, alongside Alphabet’s Waymo. Both companies have continued to spend big on the driverless dream, even as rivals such as Uber and Lyft abandoned self-driving development. General Motors reported earlier this week that it had lost more than $1.9 billion on its Cruise division so far this year.
California’s regulators shut down Cruise’s robotaxi service in San Francisco earlier this week following an October 2 incident in which a human-driven vehicle collided with a pedestrian, throwing her into the path of Cruise’s driverless vehicle. According to Cruise, citing data from cameras and sensors mounted on its vehicle, the robot car swerved and braked, but still hit the woman.
Cruise says the vehicle stopped, but then pulled over to move out of traffic, dragging the woman an additional 20 feet. The San Francisco Fire Department said it had to use rescue equipment to remove the woman from beneath the vehicle.
In a filing this week—more than three weeks after the crash—the California Department of Motor Vehicles said Cruise had not disclosed the “pull over” move that had dragged the victim. The regulator, which oversees driverless vehicle operations in the state, says it only learned of the maneuver when it was alerted by another, unspecified agency.
The DMV wrote in a statement that it had suspended Cruise’s permits to operate driverless vehicles in San Francisco on the grounds that the company had “misrepresented” the safety of its autonomous vehicle technology, and that its “vehicles are not safe for the public’s operation.”
On the day of that suspension, Cruise spokesperson Navideh Forghani disputed that Cruise had misrepresented its technology, saying regulators had been shown video of the entire incident, including the pull-over maneuver, the day after the crash. San Francisco outlet Mission Local reported yesterday that the pedestrian remains in the hospital in serious condition. The driver who initially hit the pedestrian has not been caught.
Earlier this year, Cruise announced plans to expand its driverless taxi service to cover 14 US cities. Its primary competitor, Waymo, is still operating its paid driverless taxi services in San Francisco and Phoenix, and it launched limited public access to its service in Los Angeles this month. Amazon-owned Zoox is testing ahead of a commercial launch of driverless taxis in Las Vegas.