California Department of Motor Vehicles officials say Cruise didn't show regulators complete footage of an Oct. 2 incident in Downtown San Francisco where a robotaxi dragged a woman after she was hit by a human driver.
The DMV suspended Cruise's driverless taxi permits on Tuesday morning, immediately halting both the company’s robotaxi deployment and its ability to test its autonomous vehicles without a safety driver present. The suspension affects not only Cruise's operations in San Francisco, but also across the state.
The DMV linked the company’s suspension to the Oct. 2 hit-and-run where a woman was struck by a human driver and was thrown into the path of the AV—named Panini—near Fifth and Market Streets.
After the point of impact, the Cruise vehicle came to a stop with the woman trapped underneath. However, the Cruise then attempted to pull over while the pedestrian was under the vehicle, which dragged her for around 20 feet at a speed of 7 mph before coming to a final stop.
According to orders of suspension sent to Cruise on Tuesday, the DMV wrote that it met with Cruise representatives and the California Highway Patrol to discuss the accident before being shown footage captured by the AV’s onboard cameras.
However, the video that was initially shown ran only to the point when the Cruise stopped for the first time.
"Footage of the subsequent movement of the AV to perform a pullover maneuver was not shown to the [DMV] and Cruise did not disclose that any additional movement of the vehicle had occurred after the initial stop," the DMV wrote in the order.
The DMV wrote that it learned of the subsequent movement "via discussion with another government agency."
The company disputes that it hid the footage or information from the DMV. Cruise spokesperson Hannah Lindlow said the company showed the complete video to the DMV multiple times during a meeting on Oct. 3 and later provided a copy of the full video to the agency.
Cruise representatives noted that the human driver who initially struck the pedestrian is still at large. Cruise employees "are currently doing an analysis to identify potential enhancements to the AV’s response to this kind of extremely rare event."
In laying out the basis for Cruise’s suspension, the DMV cited a number of statutes in the California Code of Regulations. In its explanation of how Cruise’s vehicles were unsafe for the public, the DMV referred to the vehicle pulling over, which "increased the risk of and may have caused further injury to the pedestrian."
Firefighters responded to Fifth and Market at 9:35 p.m. within 60 seconds and worked to secure the vehicle and free the woman. She was then transported to San Francisco General Hospital with "multiple traumatic injuries," San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Justin Schorr said at the time.
The Standard was unable to confirm the woman's condition on Tuesday.
The omission of additional information and footage in Cruise’s initial meeting with DMV "hinders the ability of the department to effectively and timely evaluate the safe operation of Cruise’s vehicles and puts the safety of the public at risk," the order stated.
The DMV said Cruise has five days to request a hearing over its deployment permit and up to 60 days to request a hearing for its driverless testing permit.
“To reinstate their permits, Cruise will need to provide the department with information regarding how it has addressed the deficiencies that led to the suspensions,” according to the DMV.
"When there is an unreasonable risk to public safety, the DMV can immediately suspend or revoke permits. There is no set time for a suspension," the department wrote in a statement. As a result of the suspension, law enforcement officers can impound any Cruise autonomous vehicle operating without a driver.
According to an earnings report from Cruise’s parent company, General Motors, Cruise earned $25 million in revenue in the third quarter against $833 million in costs and expenses. Cruise reported $791 million of losses between July and September before taxes.
Kevin Truong can be reached at email@example.com