GM Robotaxi Cruise Unit offers $75,000 to Resolve Crash Probe

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General Motors’ (GM) Cruise robotaxi unit is offering $75,000 to settle an investigation by California regulators related to a pedestrian crash involving one of its self-driving cars. The California Public Utilities Commission had ordered Cruise to appear at a hearing on February 6, accusing the company of misleading the commission by not disclosing the full details of the accident and making misleading public comments on its interactions with the regulatory body.

Cruise, which has undergone significant internal changes, including the dismissal of nine executives, requested a deferral of the hearing and proposed an alternative mode of dispute resolution. The company, represented by law firm Quinn Emanuel, anticipates the investigation’s completion and the release of findings before the scheduled hearing date. As part of its settlement offer, Cruise has committed to enhancing its reporting of collisions to the commission.

Acknowledging the need for process improvements and increased transparency, cooperation, and regulatory trust, Cruise expressed its dedication to rebuilding relations with the commission. The robotaxi company had previously withdrawn all its U.S. vehicles from self-driving testing after California suspended its driverless testing permit following the October crash. CEO Kyle Vogt and co-founder Dan Kan resigned in November, signaling further organizational changes.

In December, Cruise announced a 24% reduction in its workforce, laying off 900 employees out of 3,800. The October 2 incident involved a pedestrian being struck by another vehicle, subsequently thrown into the path of a self-driving Cruise vehicle and dragged for 20 feet. The testing permit suspension led to the cessation of all U.S. testing operations.

The commission’s allegations include Cruise omitting crucial details about the incident during communication with a commission analyst the day after the crash. Notably, the company failed to mention the Cruise AV’s engagement in a pullover maneuver that resulted in the pedestrian being dragged an additional 20 feet at 7 mph.

This incident has broader repercussions for Cruise and its parent company, GM, as they face financial challenges. Cruise lost over $700 million in the third quarter, contributing to cumulative losses exceeding $8 billion since 2016. In October, the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Cruise to remove its driverless cars from state roads, citing public risk and accusing the company of misrepresenting the safety of its technology. Simultaneously, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated an investigation into pedestrian risks associated with Cruise’s autonomous vehicles.

Source: Reuters


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