The CEO of self-driving car firm Cruise resigned yesterday following an accident in which a Cruise robotaxi dragged a pedestrian 20 feet. California officials accused Cruise of withholding key information and video after the accident, and the company’s self-driving operations are on hold while federal authorities investigate.
“Today I resigned from my position as CEO of Cruise,” co-founder Kyle Vogt wrote in a post on twitter.com. “The startup I launched in my garage has given over 250,000 driverless rides across several cities, with each ride inspiring people with a small taste of the future,” he also wrote.
Cruise is owned by General Motors, which bought the company in 2016. Vogt expressed optimism about Cruise’s future without him, saying the team is “executing on a solid, multi-year roadmap and an exciting product vision.”
As for what’s next for me, I plan to spend time with my family and explore some new ideas. Thanks for the great ride!” Vogt wrote.
On Saturday, one day before resigning, Vogt reportedly apologized to staff in an email. “As CEO, I take responsibility for the situation Cruise is in today. There are no excuses, and there is no sugar coating what has happened. We need to double down on safety, transparency, and community engagement,” he wrote in the email quoted by Reuters.
Robotaxi kept moving after hitting woman
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) last month suspended Cruise’s permits for autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing. Cruise subsequently announced a “pause” of all of its driverless operations in the US, which includes San Francisco, Austin, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and Miami. Cruise said the pause affects about 70 vehicles.
The DMV action came three weeks after a Cruise vehicle hit and dragged a pedestrian in San Francisco. A woman entered a crosswalk at nighttime and was hit by two cars, the second of which was the Cruise vehicle. First, a Nissan Sentra “tragically struck and propelled the pedestrian into the path of the AV,” Cruise said in a description of the incident.
The Cruise vehicle then moved “rightward before braking aggressively, but still made contact with the pedestrian,” the company said. “The AV detected a collision, bringing the vehicle to a stop; then attempted to pull over to avoid causing further road safety issues, pulling the individual forward approximately 20 feet.”
The accident happened at 9:29 pm on October 2. The Nissan driver fled the scene, and Cruise said it was sharing information with authorities to help them track down the hit-and-run driver. The woman suffered severe injuries and was reportedly still in “serious condition” at San Francisco General Hospital in late October.
In an order of suspension that was published by Vice, the California DMV said that in a meeting on October 3, “Cruise failed to disclose that the AV executed a pullover maneuver that increased the risk of, and may have caused, further injury to a pedestrian. Cruise’s omission hinders the ability of the department to effectively and timely evaluate the safe operation of Cruise’s vehicles and puts the safety of the public at risk.”
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on October 16 opened an investigation into Cruise vehicles after receiving reports of two pedestrian injuries, including the October 2 incident. The Cruise cars “may not have exercised appropriate caution around pedestrians in the roadway,” the agency said. Another Cruise robotaxi hit a fire truck in San Francisco in August.