Leader cruise expelled after preliminary inquiry into robotaxi crisis

Cruise spokesperson Erik Moser confirmed the departures and shared a statement, but declined to comment on whether these employees were fired. “Today, following an initial analysis of the October 2 incident and Cruise’s response to it, nine individuals departed Cruise. A video, which TechCrunch viewed a day after the incident, showed the robotaxi braking aggressively and coming to a stop over the woman. Morale at Cruise has been low since the October 2 incident, with employees pointing the finger at poor management that didn’t prioritize safety at the company. Initial layoffs affected contract workers who had jobs cleaning, charging and maintaining the vehicles as well as answering customer support inquiries.

Nine Cruise managers and executives who worked in commercial operations, legal, and policy departments have departed the company’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary, following an internal analysis of the October 2 incident involving a pedestrian.

The departures were announced via an internal Slack message and have been confirmed by Cruise spokesperson Erik Moser. It’s unclear at this time if the employees were fired or chose to leave on their own accord. However, it has been revealed that David Estrada, previously of autonomous vehicle startup Nuro, and COO Gil West were among those dismissed. West has since updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect his departure.

“Today, following an initial analysis of the October 2 incident and Cruise’s response to it, nine individuals departed Cruise. These include key leaders from Legal, Government Affairs, and Commercial Operations, as well as Safety and Systems. As a company, we are committed to full transparency and are focused on rebuilding trust and operating with the highest standards when it comes to safety, integrity, and accountability, and believe that new leadership is necessary to achieve these goals.”

The initial analysis was conducted by the Cruise board and is separate from the ongoing investigation by firm Quinn Emmanuel, which has yet to be released.

These departures come just three weeks after co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt resigned and less than two months after the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Cruise’s permits to operate self-driving vehicles on public roads. The suspension was a result of the October 2 incident, which involved a pedestrian being initially hit by a human-driven car and then getting stuck under and dragged by a Cruise robotaxi. A video, viewed by TechCrunch a day after the incident, showed the robotaxi braking aggressively and coming to a stop over the woman. It has also been revealed that Cruise withheld seven seconds of video footage, showing the robotaxi attempting to pull over and subsequently dragging the woman 20 feet.

Morale at Cruise has been low since the October 2 incident, with employees citing poor management and a lack of prioritization for safety within the company. With their commercial permits suspended in San Francisco and a decision to pause driverless fleets in other states, Cruise has laid off contract workers, exacerbating the overall atmosphere.

The initial layoffs affected contract workers responsible for cleaning, charging, maintaining the vehicles, and providing customer support. However, not all contract workers were affected, as some are employed by third-party companies. It is expected that further layoffs of full-time employees will occur this month.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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