California regulators have accused Cruise, a robotaxi company owned by General Motors (GM), of downplaying the severity of an accident that occurred on October 2nd, involving one of its autonomous vehicles. The incident, which resulted in a pedestrian suffering critical injuries, led to the suspension of Cruise's license to operate in California by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has scheduled an evidentiary hearing for February 6 to investigate whether Cruise misled authorities about the accident.
Accident Leads to License Suspension and Potential Fine
The robotaxi service could face a hefty penalty of approximately $1.5 million. This is based on allegations that it concealed the actions of the autonomous vehicle following the collision, which included dragging the injured pedestrian for 20 feet. This hearing comes six months after Cruise was authorized to charge for 24/7 rides in San Francisco, despite warnings from city officials about the potential malfunctioning of driverless cars.
Setbacks for Cruise and General Motors
The license suspension and the scrutiny surrounding the accident are setbacks for both Cruise and GM. Both companies have heavily invested in the development of the robotaxi service, in anticipation of generating $1 billion in revenue by 2025. However, Cruise has seen nearly $6 billion in losses since the end of 2019.
GM's Response to the Incident
In response to the incident, GM CEO Mary Barra emphasized the importance of transparency and maintaining strong regulatory relations. This statement comes in light of recent management changes at Cruise, including shifts within its government-relations and legal teams. Cruise, keen on addressing the PUC's concerns, has engaged an external law firm to review its response to the October accident.