Allegations Against San Francisco Robotaxi Service

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California regulators have accused a San Francisco robotaxi service owned by General Motors of concealing the seriousness of an accident involving one of its driverless cars. These allegations now raise the possibility of an additional fine to accompany the recent suspension of its California license.

The California Public Utilities Commission has filed documents that suggest the potential penalty for GM’s Cruise service could amount to approximately $1.5 million. In order to determine whether the robotaxi service provided misleading information to regulators regarding an incident on October 2 in San Francisco, Cruise has been ordered to appear at an evidentiary hearing on February 6.

Shortly after the October 2 accident, the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Cruise’s license to operate in the state, effectively shutting down the robotaxi service. This suspension dealt a significant blow to Cruise and its parent company, GM, which had already experienced substantial losses during the development of this driverless service. The service was projected to generate $1 billion in revenue by 2025 as it expanded beyond San Francisco.

Cruise, having suffered losses of nearly $6 billion since late 2019, is now in damage control mode as it grapples with the aftermath of the October 2 accident. Additionally, the incident has resulted in the recent resignation of Cruise’s CEO and co-founder, Kyle Vogt.

GM CEO Mary Barra emphasizes the need for transparency and better relationship with regulators

GM CEO Mary Barra acknowledged the importance of transparency and a stronger partnership with regulators during a recent gathering of automotive media. Barra stated that the October crash incident provided valuable insights for the automaker, highlighting the significance of this technology in improving safety during transportation.

Cruise’s management undergoes reorganization to enhance effectiveness

Barra also mentioned the positive strides made in Cruise’s management overhaul, specifically their government-relations and legal teams. These changes reflect Cruise’s commitment to operating more effectively, thus facilitating the development and implementation of their autonomous driving technology.

Cruise promises prompt response to Public Utilities Commission’s concerns

Cruise responded to the concerns raised by the Public Utilities Commission, assuring them that they will address the issues in a timely manner. In order to thoroughly assess their response to the October 2 accident, Cruise has enlisted an external law firm.

Questions surrounding Cruise’s handling of the incident

The most critical questions revolve around how Cruise handled the situation immediately after the accident. Of particular concern is Cruise’s initial failure to disclose a video showing their robotaxi, named “Panini,” dragging a pedestrian for 20 feet at a speed of seven miles per hour before coming to a stop.

Allegations of attempted concealment by Cruise

According to a filing made by the Public Utilities Commission on December 1, Cruise is accused of attempting to conceal vital information regarding their robotaxi’s reaction to the accident for over two weeks. The documents allege that Cruise deliberately misled a regulatory analyst during a phone call on October 3, only disclosing that the robotaxi came to an immediate stop upon impact, without mentioning that it continued for another 20 feet with the injured person still trapped.

Delayed provision of video footage raises further concerns

The regulatory filing claims that Cruise did not provide the video footage until October 19, a span of 15 days after the incident. This alleged cover-up could potentially result in fines of $100,000 per day, amounting to a potential totalfine of $1.5 million for Cruise and GM.

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