General Motors’ Cruise autonomous driving unit has been embroiled in controversy following an incident involving one of its autonomous vehicles. The incident, which occurred in San Francisco in October, saw a Cruise driverless car drag a pedestrian 20 feet after she was hit by another vehicle.
This has led to an extensive investigation by various authorities, including the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The 200-page report by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a law firm commissioned by Cruise, sheds light on the incident and the company’s response. The report suggests that Cruise did not intentionally mislead regulators but failed to provide a complete account of the incident. This failure is partly attributed to internet connectivity issues that hampered the transmission of a crucial video to regulators, leading to misunderstandings about the extent of the pedestrian’s injuries. (via The Verge)
Moreover, the incident has revealed a culture of antagonism towards regulators within Cruise. The company’s leadership, including co-founders Kyle Vogt and Dan Kan who have since resigned, displayed a focus on protecting the company’s reputation over fully disclosing details of the incident. This approach, as the report indicates, was detrimental to Cruise’s relationship with regulators and the public.
As a result of these revelations, Cruise has undertaken significant organizational changes. The company has paused its driverless operations nationwide, recalled all 950 of its vehicles, and laid off nearly a quarter of its workforce.
In response to the investigation’s findings, Cruise has vowed to reform its approach, focusing on earning back public trust and advancing its technology. This includes addressing its internal culture and re-establishing a healthy relationship with government officials and regulators.