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Cruise’s robotaxi service suspended by California regulator

Autonomous car startup Cruise has run into trouble in California after the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said Tuesday it was suspending its deployment and driverless permits with immediate effect.

The dramatic intervention comes just a couple of months after General Motors-owned Cruise was given permission to operate robotaxi services around the clock, but also follows a number of troubling incidents involving self-driving Cruise cars on the streets of San Francisco, where it’s been carrying out tests on public roads in recent years.

The DMV’s order of suspension, seen by TechCrunch, listed a number of factors that prompted the move. They include an accusation that Cruise withheld video footage from a live investigation relating to an incident earlier this month in which a female pedestrian was left trapped beneath a Cruise autonomous car immediately after she was struck by another vehicle. The woman is still recovering from her ordeal.

The DMV’s order said that Cruise failed to show all of the maneuvers made by the Cruise car in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and only found out that there was more to see after speaking with another government agency. However, Cruise claims it provided the DMV with “the full video.”

The DMV added that Cruise’s apparent failure to disclose the full video prevents it from effectively evaluating the company’s ability to safely operate its vehicles, a situation that presents a risk to public safety.

“Public safety remains the California DMV’s top priority, and the department’s autonomous vehicle regulations provide a framework to facilitate the safe testing and deployment of this technology on California public roads,” the regulator said. “When there is an unreasonable risk to public safety, the DMV can immediately suspend or revoke permits.”

Cruise must now enact particular measures to have its permit reinstated.

The current suspension affects Cruise’s fully driverless cars and not those with a safety driver behind the wheel. But in a statement emailed to Digital Trends, Cruise said it would be pausing operations of all of its driverless cars in San Francisco.

“Ultimately, we develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in an effort to save lives,” it said. “In the incident being reviewed by the DMV, a human hit-and-run driver tragically struck and propelled the pedestrian into the path of the AV. The AV braked aggressively before impact and because it detected a collision, it attempted to pull over to avoid further safety issues. When the AV tried to pull over, it continued before coming to a final stop, pulling the pedestrian forward. Our thoughts continue to be with the victim as we hope for a rapid and complete recovery.”

It explained that its team proactively shared information with the California DMV and other relevant bodies, “including the full video.”

Cruise has hit the headlines on a number of occasions after incidents involving its autonomous cars in San Francisco. In August, a collision with a fire truck resulted in Cruise being ordered to halve its fleet in the city. In the same month, another Cruise car got stuck in wet concrete.

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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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