Just over two months ago, a California state agency approved two autonomous vehicle companies to operate around the clock in San Francisco — no human drivers required. At the time, it seemed like a huge step forward for driverless automotive technology, something plenty of automakers have stated is their goal. Now, however, it seems as though it may have been a premature decision — with one of the companies involved, Cruise, announcing a temporary stop in its driverless operations.
This comes on the heels of California pulling Cruise’s permit to operate without a driver behind the wheel. “The DMV has provided Cruise with the steps needed to apply to reinstate its suspended permits, which the DMV will not approve until the company has fulfilled the requirements to the department’s satisfaction,” the California Department of Motor Vehicles said in a statement. “This decision does not impact the company’s permit for testing with a safety driver.”
Now, as Engadget reports (via Autoblog), Cruise has announced its own pause in operations, citing the need to “rebuild public trust.”
“[W]e have decided to proactively pause driverless operations across all of our fleets while we take time to examine our processes, systems, and tools and reflect on how we can better operate in a way that will earn public trust,” the company stated in a thread on the social network formerly known as Twitter.
Cruise went on to state, “This isn’t related to any new on-road incidents, and supervised AV operations will continue.” A TechCrunch article on Cruise’s announcement notes that this pause applied to operations outside of California — meaning changes have come to their operations in states like Texas and Arizona.
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One of the incidents that prompted California to suspend Cruise’s operation involved a woman being pinned under a Cruise vehicle. “I was coming down Market Street when I looked to my left, I saw tennis shoes in the street,” bus driver Lee Goins told ABC7 News earlier this month. “And then as I moved I looked and I saw a Cruise automobile, one of these driverless vehicles with a body underneath it.”
As the Los Angeles Times reported, Cruise’s handling of recorded footage of this incident was one of the reasons cited by California’s DMV in suspending Cruise’s autonomous vehicle operations in the state.
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