Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Driverless car company Cruise is to pause self-driving operations across its fleet, days after California regulators barred its vehicles from the state’s roads.
Following a highly publicised accident involving one of its driverless vehicles in San Francisco, General Motors-owned Cruise said on Thursday that the “most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust”.
To do that, the company said it would “proactively pause driverless operations across all of our fleets” while it assessed its processes and systems.
“Supervised” operations, with safety drivers behind the wheel of vehicles, would continue, it said.
Cruise vehicles had also been operating in the US cities of Austin, Phoenix and Houston.
The announcement marks a significant blow for Cruise and comes days after the California Department of Motor Vehicles barred the company’s autonomous vehicles from the roads and branded them “not safe for the public’s operation”.
That followed an accident this month in San Francisco in which a pedestrian was dragged 20ft underneath a Cruise vehicle.
In suspending the company’s driverless cars from the roads, the regulator accused Cruise of having “misrepresented” details of the accident.
In a blog post, Cruise confirmed the details of the incident but said it had “proactively” shared information with the California DMV and other authorities and stayed in close contact with them.
The developments come only months after San Francisco became the first US city in which driverless taxis were free to transport passengers without restrictions and without the supervision of humans behind the wheel.
Cruise and its rival Alphabet-owned Waymo were granted permission by the California Public Utilities Commission in August to run driverless taxi services throughout the city. Their vehicles have become common sights on San Francisco’s streets.
Other companies, including Tesla and Amazon-owned Zoox, are also racing to develop driverless vehicle technology, with innovators arguing that the cars can be safer and more reliable than human-driven alternatives.
“Safety is fundamental to our mission to save lives — it’s at the core of everything we do,” Cruise said this week.
In Thursday’s announcement, Cruise said its decision to pause all driverless vehicle operations was not related to “any new on-road incidents”.
Read the full article here