#Cruise #CEO #Kyle #Vogt #resigns #robotaxi #safety #concerns #suspended #operations
What just happened? Kyle Vogt, the founder and CEO of robotaxi company Cruise, has stepped down as head of the company following a troubled few weeks in which its permit to operate in California was revoked and nationwide operations were suspended.
Vogt did not give a reason for his resignation beyond plans to spend time with his family and explore new ideas. He started Cruise from his garage ten years ago, three years before it was bought by General Motors in 2016.
The last 10 years have been amazing, and I’m grateful to everyone who helped Cruise along the way. The startup I launched in my garage has given over 250,000 driverless rides across several cities, with each ride inspiring people with a small taste of the future. (2/5)
– Kyle Vogt (@kvogt) November 20, 2023
The driverless taxi firm started operating on San Francisco streets in 2022, but its vehicles have been involved in numerous incidents and accidents since then.
One of the most serious incidents took place in October when a San Francisco pedestrian was hit by two cars. According to the company, the woman was struck by a human-driven car, hurling her in front of a driverless taxi that ran her over and stopped with its rear tire still on her leg. The DMV later revealed that the Cruise vehicle attempted a pullover maneuver after it stopped while the pedestrian was still under the wheels, dragging her another 20 feet.
Cruise recently said it had rolled out a software fix to prevent its vehicles from pulling away following accidents and dragging downed pedestrians with them.
This was just the latest in a line of accidents involving Cruise vehicles. It prompted the California DMV to announce that the robotaxis were “not safe for the public’s operation” and that it was revoking its permits to test and deploy vehicles on the state’s public streets. The company was also accused of not being transparent about the details of the pedestrian collision. Two days later, Cruise announced that it was pausing all driverless operations nationwide, ending ops in Austin, Houston, Phoenix, and Miami as it looked to “rebuild public trust.” Operations in which a human safety supervisor was behind a vehicle’s wheel continued.
Cruise is also dealing with an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over incidents in which vehicles’ automated driving system may have endangered pedestrians in roadways, including crosswalks.
On November 17, Cruise said it was temporarily halting all supervised and manual operations of its autonomous vehicles in the US while a safety review was carried out by a third party. It meant no Cruise taxis on the road, even those with a human supervisor behind the wheel. There was also a promise to hire a chief safety officer.
It’s not too surprising to see Vogt resign, given how Cruise has lurched from one crisis to another over the past 12 months or so. There has been a reshuffling of the company’s board following his announcement, but no new CEO has been named.