After years of working on its fleet of autonomous Robotaxi vehicles, GM’s Cruise recently received regulatory approval to drive on select California streets and charge customers for taxi rides. However, things have not gotten off to a good start and now the platform is under review.
Cruise was authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to offer its driverless commercial taxi services in San Francisco in June. Google’s Waymo autonomous vehicles can also drive on select roads, but they don’t yet offer rides to the public.
Since receiving your approval, we have seen dozens of Cruise vehicles pile up, come to a complete stop and cause major traffic jams. And in early July, one was involved in a car accident resulting in injuries. We’re still not sure if Cruise’s self-driving car was to blame.
And now, California regulators are investigating Cruise after he received what the Wall Street Journal reports as an anonymous letter from an employee expressing various concerns about the robotaxi platform.
In the letter, a longtime employee said the autonomous robotaxi service is not ready to go public and that Cruise is moving too soon. The whistleblower describes a “chaotic environment” that prevented the system from addressing employee safety concerns. And that report that went up on the network had not been seen after six months of the presentation. Here is an alarming excerpt from the note.
“Employees generally don’t think we’re ready to launch to the public, but there’s a fear of admitting it because of expectations from leaders and investors.”
Also, the huge traffic jam that was reported a few weeks ago is nothing new. The anonymous employee said these cruise cluster incidents occur frequently and often require tow trucks or humans to intervene and move the vehicles off the road.
It’s important to remember that Cruise is still a brand new service, rapidly changing and evolving on a daily basis. In addition, these autonomous taxis cannot circulate anywhere in the city. They are limited to select streets, at night, at low speeds, and only during optimal weather conditions.
Still, it’s worrying to see so many problems during their first month on the streets, and worse, employees feel the need to communicate with anonymous letters.
For now, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is aware of the letter and is investigating the situation. We’ll have to wait and see how it all works out or if Cruise hits the brakes.
via auto blog