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Cruise woes continue as key figures quit the robotaxi firm

Cruise co-founder Daniel Kan has quit the beleaguered autonomous car company, Reuters reported on Monday.

His departure as chief product officer comes a day after Cruise co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt announced he was leaving the company that the pair set up 10 years ago.

The significant upheaval follows a string of safety-related incidents involving its driverless cars on the streets of San Francisco, the same city where the General Motors-backed startup is headquartered.

The most serious of these happened in San Francisco in October when a Cruise car came to a halt on top of a woman shortly after she’d been hit by a human-driven vehicle. It then dragged her along the road as it tried to pull over to the side of the street.

The incident prompted California regulators to pull Cruise’s operating permit. Soon after, General Motors announced that it was suspending driverless testing of Cruise cars nationwide, which meant removing its vehicles from the streets of Texas, Arizona, and Florida.

And in early November, Vogt told staff that the company was halting production of its fully driverless Origin vehicle, a futuristic-looking vehicle that it one day hopes to use for robotaxi services.

Kan is yet to make any public comment about his decision to leave Cruise. Vogt, on the other hand, posted a message on social media on Sunday, though he declined to give a reason for his departure.

Instead, Vogt said he plans to spend time with his family and explore new ideas, and that he’s excited to see what Cruise comes up with next.

“The last 10 years have been amazing,” Vogt wrote in his post. “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.”

He added that Cruise is “still just getting started, and I believe it has a great future ahead. The folks at Cruise are brilliant, driven, and resilient. They’re executing on a solid, multi-year roadmap and an exciting product vision.”

Attempting to remain upbeat, he finished: “To my former colleagues at Cruise and GM — you’ve got this! Regardless of what originally brought you to work on AVs, remember why this work matters. The status quo on our roads sucks, but together we’ve proven there is something far better around the corner.”

Cruise has yet to announce replacements for CEO and chief product officer, though the New York Times reported that GM has added two new members to Cruise’s board and that Mo Elshenawy, Cruise’s executive vice president of engineering, will become president of the firm.

In early November, after suspending its operations nationwide, Cruise said: “The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust,” adding, “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.”

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Trevor Mogg
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Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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