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Cruise woes prompt production halt of fully driverless van

Interior of Cruise's Origin vehicle.

General Motors-owned  Cruise has halted production of its fully driverless vehicle — the Origin — just over a week after it suspended robotaxi operations nationwide following a number of troubling incidents involving its cars.

The news was announced by Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt during a meeting with staff on Monday, according to Forbes, which obtained audio of the gathering.

The Origin van is a purpose-built driverless vehicle that has no steering wheel or pedals and was trumpeted as the future of Cruise’s robotaxi efforts for cities across the U.S.

The company unveiled the Origin (below) three years ago and built it at General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck factory. But with regulators not quite ready for such a design, Cruise has been testing its autonomous technology using a modified Chevy Bolt, complete with a steering wheel and pedals.

Meet the Cruise Origin

Vogt reportedly told staff on Monday that General Motors-owned Cruise has already built “hundreds” of Origin vans and that they would be deployed “when we are ready to ramp things back up.”

A GM spokesperson told Digital Trends that it plans to “temporarily pause production” of the Origin while maintaining that it’s “an important part of the autonomous vehicle journey” as it’s “the first scalable vehicle ever designed specifically for autonomous rides.”

Cruise suspended testing nationwide on October 26 just a couple of days after the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended its robotaxi permit in the state following a number of worrying incidents. The most concerning of these occurred in San Francisco in early October when a woman became trapped under a Cruise car’s wheel after she was struck by another vehicle.

Other incidents over recent months saw a number of Cruise self-driving vehicles blocking traffic. One even drove onto wet concrete before getting stuck.

“The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust,” Cruise said when it announced it was suspending its operations. “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”

Only when the company has fully assessed its position will we know how it plans to proceed, and whether it will get back to manufacturing the Origin van for robotaxi and delivery services.

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