Title: General Motors’ Driverless Car Startup Cruise Faces Turbulence in 2022
In a tumultuous year for Cruise, the driverless car startup owned by General Motors, the company has endured a series of setbacks that have left its future hanging in the balance. A pedestrian accident in October proved to be the tipping point, leading to the resignation of CEO Kyle Vogt and the withdrawal of hundreds of millions in funding from GM.
Cruise, which once proudly boasted about its exponential growth and large fleet of driverless cars, now finds itself at the center of government investigations and potential fines. The incident in question prompted renewed scrutiny of the safety and behavior of autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, where tension had been steadily building.
Activist group Safe Street Rebel made their dissent known by placing orange traffic cones on Cruise and Waymo vehicles, signaling their concerns over the technology’s reliability. Their protests were reinforced by testimonies of the city’s police and fire departments, highlighting the disruptive behavior of driverless cars at government hearings.
Despite opposition from San Francisco, the California Department of Motor Vehicles granted Cruise and Waymo permission to expand their robotaxi services in August. However, a series of subsequent incidents, including a collision with a fire truck and the pedestrian accident, forced an operational suspension for Cruise in California. The DMV further accused the company of withholding video footage of the accident, escalating the controversy.
In response, Cruise took immediate action, initiating a recall of all its cars and grounding them while conducting a third-party safety review. Shortly after, CEO Kyle Vogt resigned, and the company had to lay off nearly a quarter of its staff. This upheaval within Cruise has not only affected the company itself but has also cast doubt on the wider self-driving industry’s claims of superior safety.
Both Cruise and Waymo released studies claiming reduced crash rates compared to human drivers. However, experts argue that it’s crucial to focus on guaranteeing the actual safety of the technology, rather than relying solely on these reports. The lack of transparency, with the companies withholding raw data, has only added fuel to the growing skepticism.
As Cruise faces the consequences of a disastrous year, its future remains uncertain. With government investigations underway and potential fines looming, the company will have to work tirelessly to restore trust and confidence in its driverless technology.
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