California Department of Motor Vehicles promptly revokes Cruise’s permission for its robotaxi service

California Department of Motor Vehicles promptly revokes Cruise's permission for its robotaxi service

On Tuesday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced the immediate suspension of Cruise’s deployment and driverless testing permits, effectively putting an end to the GM self-driving car subsidiary’s robotaxi operations in San Francisco. This suspension came shortly after Cruise had obtained the final permit necessary to commercialize its operations.

The reason for this suspension, as detailed in the DMV’s order, was Cruise’s failure to provide complete video footage from an ongoing investigation. The incident in question, which occurred on October 2, involved a pedestrian who had been initially struck by a human-driven car and subsequently became trapped beneath a Cruise robotaxi.

During a meeting with Cruise representatives, the DMV was shown video footage of the accident, which only depicted the robotaxi coming to an initial stop after a sudden braking maneuver. However, crucial footage of the robotaxi’s subsequent movement to perform a pullover maneuver was omitted. Cruise did not disclose this additional movement, and the DMV only learned of it through another government agency, believed to be the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Cruise eventually provided the full video to the DMV on October 13.

The DMV’s decision to suspend the permits was based on concerns regarding public safety and the misrepresentation of information related to Cruise’s autonomous vehicle technology. Cruise must now meet specific requirements before its suspended permits can be reinstated. This suspension does not affect the company’s permit for testing with a safety driver.

Cruise responded to the suspension by stating that it shared the complete video with the DMV and emphasized its commitment to developing and deploying autonomous vehicles to enhance safety. They also clarified the circumstances of the incident, wherein a pedestrian was struck by a human-driven car and then got trapped under the robotaxi, which attempted to minimize the impact by braking aggressively.

This suspension came shortly after Cruise and its competitor Waymo received a permit to offer commercial robotaxi services in San Francisco around the clock. However, without the DMV permits, which allow for driverless vehicles to operate on public roads, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) permit for commercial driverless ride-hailing becomes essentially useless.

The CPUC had granted the final permit despite opposition from residents and city officials due to issues with malfunctioning vehicles causing traffic disruptions. A series of incidents, including a collision between a Cruise robotaxi and an emergency vehicle, led to a request for further regulatory review. The pressure to suspend or revoke Cruise’s permits increased following the October 2 incident involving a pedestrian and the robotaxi, leading to investigations by both the San Francisco police and the NHTSA.