Kyle Vogt, president of GM-owned Cruze, is stepping down. Meanwhile, the safety of the company’s fleet of self-driving cars is being investigated.
The background is an incident that occurred in San Francisco on October 2, in which a woman was struck by a human-driven car and then ended up in front of a driverless Cruze. After the collision, the car veered to the side of the road while the woman was still trapped underneath. She was dragged several metres.
Cruz then chose not to report the entire route to US road authorities while they investigated the accident. When this was discovered, it led to Cruise immediately losing his permit to test self-driving cars in California, and later throughout the United States.
Kyle Vogt founded Cruise in 2013. He informed the board of his resignation on Sunday, then in an email to company employees the same day, He writes Reuters, which claims to have seen this email.
Resistance to driverless cars
Testing self-driving cars on public roads requires public acceptance. From the beginning, there was a great deal of hype around such a test. Activists stopped self-driving cars in San Francisco and placed traffic cones on the hoods of the cars to stop them from working.
Activists believe that self-driving cars make city streets less safe, and expressed their dissatisfaction with Cruise and Google Waymo obtaining permission to operate self-driving cars around the clock earlier this year.
The accidents themselves pose a problem in terms of public acceptance of players developing the technology that makes cars driverless. Covering hands as Cruz did is unlikely to contribute positively.
Actors like Cruise and Waymo also rely on permission from authorities, which may become more difficult when trust in technology declines.
When U.S. highway officials withdrew Cruise’s permit in October, they described it as a danger to the public and that the company had misrepresented safety.
Cruise is operating at a loss, having lost more than $8 billion since 2017, according to Reuters. In the third quarter of this year, the deficit reached $728 million.
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