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Cruise, one of two autonomous vehicle companies offering fully driverless taxi rides in the U.S., has had its license revoked by the California Department of Motor Vehicles because it withheld video footage from an ongoing investigation and “the manufacturer’s vehicles are not safe for the public’s operation,” the DMV said in a statement.
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In August, California regulators approved an expansion of Cruise’s driverless taxi service, which is owned by GM, so it could operate 24/7, despite the opposition from San Francisco police and fire authorities as well as an activist group that demonstrated the vehicles Cruise operates can be disabled for extended periods by placing a cone on its hood. Earlier this month, a pedestrian was seriously injured after a driver hit them with a car and a Cruise car then trapped them underneath it, which spurred a federal investigation that is also examining the Cruise vehicle’s behavior towards pedestrians more generally based on other incidents.In the Order of Suspension, the California DMV said that the Cruise vehicle initially came to a hard stop and ran over the pedestrian. After coming to a complete stop, it then attempted to do a “pullover maneuver while the pedestrian was underneath the vehicle.” The car crawled along at 7 mph for about 20 feet, then came to a final stop. The pedestrian remained under the car the whole time.
The day after the incident, DMV representatives met with Cruise to “discuss the incident.” During that meeting, Cruise only showed footage up to the first complete stop, according to the Order of Suspension. No one at Cruise told the officers or showed any footage of the subsequent pullover maneuver and dragging. The DMV only learned of that from “another government agency.” When DMV asked for footage of that part of the incident, Cruise provided it.According to the DMV statement, the suspension is effective immediately. Cruise will still be allowed to operate in driverless mode with a safety driver. The DMV did not specify what Cruise has to do to get its license back, but it says it has informed Cruise of those steps.In a statement, Cruise spokesperson Hannah Lindow disputed that Cruise failed to provide the full video during the first meeting with the DMV. “I can confirm that Cruise showed the full video to the DMV on October 3rd, and played it multiple times,” Lindow told Motherboard in a statement.Lindow said Cruise is pausing operations on driverless cars in San Francisco as a result of the suspension.“Ultimately, we develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in an effort to save lives,” Lindow said. “In the incident being reviewed by the DMV, a human hit and run driver tragically struck and propelled the pedestrian into the path of the AV. The AV braked aggressively before impact and because it detected a collision, it attempted to pull over to avoid further safety issues. When the AV tried to pull over, it continued before coming to a final stop, pulling the pedestrian forward. Our thoughts continue to be with the victim as we hope for a rapid and complete recovery.”
Lindow said “Shortly after the incident, our team proactively shared information with the California DMV, CPUC, and NHTSA, including the full video.”During a tech conference in September, before the pedestrian incident, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said “It's kind of fun as a society to poke at the differences between AVs (autonomous vehicles) and humans, but if we're serious about safety in our cities, we should be rolling out the red carpet for AVs.”Update: This story has been updated with information from the Order of Suspension, which has also been embedded below. This article was also updated to include a statement from Cruise claiming that the company showed the footage to the DMV on October 3. The headline has been updated to reflect this.