The board of General Motors (GM) self-driving subsidiary Cruise has hired a third-party law firm and technology consultants to review its response to an accident with a pedestrian in California last month.
After a Cruise robotaxi hit and pinned a pedestrian who had been hit by another car last month, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended operations of the GM-owned company’s self-driving operations. Now, Cruise’s board is working with the legal firm Quinn Emanuel to investigate the management team’s response to the incident, along with consultancy Exponent, which will review the company’s technology (via Reuters).
On Friday, GM released a statement saying, “we fully support the actions that Cruise leadership is taking to ensure that it is putting safety first and building trust and credibility with government partners, regulators, and the broader community. Our commitment to Cruise with the goal of commercialization remains steadfast.”
In late October, the California DMV said that Cruise “misrepresented” and “omitted” crucial information about the October 2 accident with a pedestrian in its blog post detailing the incident. The post explains the lead-up to the accident, along with the fact that the Cruise vehicle ended up “pulling the individual forward approximately 20 feet.”
In a follow-up letter to Cruise, California DMV Deputy Director Bernard Soriano wrote the following:
“The subsequent maneuvering of the vehicle indicates that Cruise’s vehicles may lack the ability to respond in a safe and appropriate manner during incidents involving a pedestrian… Cruise’s omission hinders the ability of the department to effectively and timely evaluate the safe operation of Cruise vehicles and puts the safety of the public at risk.”
Cruise also said last week that it was independently pausing all of its self-driving operations, adding it would do so “while we take time to examine our processes, systems, and tools.”
(1/3) The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust. Part of this involves taking a hard look inwards and at how we do work at Cruise, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable or difficult.
— cruise (@Cruise) October 27, 2023
Cruise faces investigations from federal and state regulatory agencies following a series of accidents involving the company’s vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced an investigation into Cruise last month, and the federal agency’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) disclosed two pedestrian injury reports involving the company’s robotaxis.
In August, Cruise was also required by the California DMV to cut its self-driving fleet in half in San Francisco following multiple incidents. The move was expected to be temporary until an investigation could be completed.
GM CEO Mary Barra, who sits on Cruise’s board, said the automaker planned to share more details for its plans with Cruise this year, telling analysts, “rest assured, we do have funding plans that will support Cruise’s expansion.”