Almost everyone agrees that autonomous vehicles are the future. However, their implementation by companies such as Waymo and Cruise has been lackluster since, even after years of testing, they have not yet become mainstream. Now, adding to their difficulties, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has suspended Cruise’s permits to operate driverless vehicles in the state.
This decision stems from a slew of recent incidents that endangered pedestrians’ lives. In one such recent accident, a regular car struck a woman, causing her to end up in the path of a Cruise self-driving car. Although the self-driving car did come to a stop, it did so while on top of her. Subsequently, the car attempted a pullover maneuver while the woman was still underneath, dragging her approximately 20 feet at a speed of 7 mph before coming to a complete stop.
In response to this accident, the California DMV suspended Cruise’s permits, stating that the company’s vehicles are not safe for public operation and raised significant concerns about their ability to respond safely and appropriately in situations involving pedestrians.
Following this accident, Cruise has temporarily suspended driverless operations across all its fleets. According to the company, this suspension will provide the necessary time to conduct a comprehensive assessment of its internal processes, systems, and tools. However, it is important to note that the company will now deploy autonomous vehicles with human safety drivers in control to supervise the journeys.
“The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust. Part of this involves taking a hard look inwards and at how we do work at Cruise, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable or difficult,” says the company.
Part of a broader problem
While this incident serves as a reminder that autonomous vehicles still have a long way to go, it also raises concerns about the company since just a few days before the suspension, GM CEO Mary Barra stated that their self-driving vehicles were safer than human drivers, highlighting the company’s commitment to safety.
(3/3) This isn’t related to any new on-road incidents, and supervised AV operations will continue.
We think it’s the right thing to do during a period when we need to be extra vigilant when it comes to risk, relentlessly focused on safety, & taking steps to rebuild public trust.
— cruise (@Cruise) October 27, 2023