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**Cruise Control Lost: GM’s Robotaxi Ambitions Stalled in California, Eyes on Texas Revival**



Status of GM's Cruise Robotaxi Unit

While California has halted driverless permits, Texas appears to be a potential new location.

Currently, a group of Cruise Origin robotaxis are parked and unused at Roush in Livonia, Michigan. General Motors announced that there are no plans to manufacture these robotaxis in 2024.

Kyle Vogt proudly announced last year that Cruise, General Motors' robotaxi division, was on track to achieve — or even exceed — its target of generating $1 billion in revenue by 2025.

The co-founder and former CEO mentioned that Cruise was in a phase of rapid expansion, indicating that they had moved beyond just demonstrating the effectiveness of their technology.

That's not the case

After a crash in October resulted in California revoking the company's operating permits, Cruise's vehicles have been halted. Vogt stepped down in November. This is the current situation of the company.

Relevant Story

General Motors acquired the autonomous vehicle company Cruise in 2016 with the goal of one day launching robotaxi services in San Francisco. By June 2022, Cruise made history by becoming the first to offer a commercial, driverless service in the city.

Cruise intended to launch its service in over twelve cities across the United States and in three different countries. Additionally, it partnered with Honda to initiate a robotaxi service in Japan.

On October 2nd, a self-driving taxi operated by Cruise hit a pedestrian in San Francisco. Initially, the pedestrian had been struck by a car driven by a human, which threw them into the path of the autonomous taxi. Footage from Cruise depicting the accidents suggested that the sequence of events concluded at that point and implied that the Cruise vehicle had limited ability to prevent the incident.

However, there was more to the story than that.

California authorities stated that the footage does not demonstrate the robotaxi halting over the pedestrian and subsequently resuming movement. The vehicle then dragged the individual for an additional 20 feet, resulting in "multiple traumatic injuries," as reported by the San Francisco Police Department.

Officials from the California Department of Motor Vehicles found out a few days later that the Cruise vehicle had kept moving after a federal agency had begun investigating the accident.

On October 24, 2023, authorities revoked the permits required by Cruise for testing and deploying driverless vehicles in California. The decision was based on safety concerns and the failure to report a secondary movement.

The authorizations are still on hold

Cruise has halted operations of its fleet across the country, which also encompassed limited services in the Phoenix metropolitan area and Austin, Texas.

The firm postponed the manufacturing of its specialized robotaxi, the Origin, announcing that no units will be produced in 2024.

In November, both Vogt and Cruise's co-founder Daniel Kan stepped down from their positions. Following an internal investigation, the company dismissed nine staff members, including high-ranking officials. By December, Cruise had reduced its workforce by around 24 percent, letting go of roughly 900 employees.

In February, workers at Cruise were informed that an external assessment had significantly reduced the company's worth by over 50%. The stock price dropped to $11.80, compared to $24.27 per share just three months prior. GM had previously hoped to achieve $50 billion in revenue from its autonomous vehicle unit, but it has incurred losses exceeding $8 billion since 2016.

Investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are still in progress.

General Motors and Cruise enlisted the services of Quinn Emanuel, a law firm, to investigate the company’s response to the crash. The investigation concluded that there was no proof suggesting that Cruise employees aimed to mislead regulators.

However, it admitted to an inadequate reaction towards regulatory authorities, stating that "Cruise's handling of the October 2 incident demonstrates poor leadership at the company's top levels."

In addition, Exponent Inc. carried out a technical investigation into the causes of the crash and discovered that the robotaxi's collision detection system mistakenly recognized the pedestrian as a side-impact collision instead of a frontal collision.

In November, Craig Glidden, an executive vice president at GM, was appointed co-president of Cruise, sharing the role with Mo Elshenawy, who is the senior vice president of engineering at Cruise.

In February, Cruise brought on Steve Kenner, a seasoned professional in the automotive industry, as its inaugural chief safety officer. Kenner has held prior safety leadership roles at companies such as GM, Kodiak Robotics, Ford, Apple, Uber, and Aurora Innovation.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss have expressed their continued optimism about Cruise's long-term prospects. Currently, Cruise's test fleets in the United States are still not operating. Upon resuming operations, Cruise will focus on just one location. Dallas and Houston are leading contenders, but Cruise has not yet specified where it will relaunch.

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