General Motors’ Cruise driverless car unit has announced a temporary halt to all supervised and manual car trips in the United States. This move follows an accident that led to the suspension of driverless vehicle operations. Cruise stated that this pause is a step towards rebuilding public trust while they conduct a comprehensive safety review. Though supervised and manual operations are on hold, the company will continue to operate vehicles in closed course training environments and maintain an active simulation program to advance autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. Exponent, an independent engineering firm, will expand its probe into the accident to include a comprehensive review of Cruise’s safety systems and technology.
Cruise also plans to hire an outside safety expert for an additional review of the company’s safety operations and culture. Furthermore, GM’s general counsel, Craig Glidden, will assume the role of chief administrative officer at Cruise, overseeing various teams including communications and finance. The expansion of the halt now affects approximately 70 vehicles, previously operated by human safety drivers, in addition to the unmanned ones used for their Uber-like service, which was suspended after the accident. Cruise is one of the companies competing with Alphabet’s Waymo unit in the race to develop fully autonomous vehicles for widespread production and deployment.
GM CEO Mary Barra, who is also a member of Cruise’s board, has projected potential revenue generation of $50 billion by 2030. The operation, however, reported a loss of over $700 million in Q3 2021 due to increased spending on expanding operations to 15 U.S. cities. Recent recalls and production halts have also impacted Cruise. GM recalled 950 driverless cars to upgrade software, and the fully autonomous Cruise Origin van production has been halted. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the safety of Cruise vehicles, and earlier this year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered the removal of Cruise’s driverless cars from state roads, citing safety concerns.
In conclusion, Cruise’s temporary halt to supervised and manual car trips in the U.S. is part of their efforts to conduct a thorough safety review and rebuild public trust following an accident. The company plans to continue operating in closed course training environments and recruit outside experts to review their safety practices. Development in the autonomous vehicle industry continues, with companies like Cruise competing to deliver safe and reliable technology for commercial use.