Cruise, the GM self-driving subsidiary, announced Thursday that federal prosecutors and securities regulators have launched investigations into the October 2nd incident involving one of its robotaxis. A pedestrian was struck and dragged by the vehicle, exposing the risks of autonomous driving technology in a real-world scenario.
The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have joined the growing list of government agencies probing Cruise’s actions, alongside the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The company’s internal report, released on the same day, highlights the severity of the investigation and the potential consequences it carries. The outcome of these investigations will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the future of Cruise, forcing GM to reevaluate its cost-saving measures and take tighter control of the embattled company.
The October 2nd incident and the subsequent actions taken by Cruise’s leadership have put the company’s future at serious risk. The consequences have been severe, with the company losing its commercial permits in California and halting operations in other areas. Co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt resigned, and nearly a quarter of the workforce was laid off in the aftermath of this incident.
The troubles for Cruise began almost immediately after it obtained the last necessary permit to operate its robotaxi service in San Francisco. However, it was the October 2nd incident that sent the company spiraling downwards.
On that fateful day, a pedestrian was hit by a human-driven car and thrown into the path of a Cruise robotaxi, which ran over the individual. Several days later, it was revealed that the stopped robotaxi attempted to pull over and ended up dragging the pedestrian for 20 feet. The lack of transparency and delayed release of this information only heightened regulatory concerns and damaged Cruise’s already precarious relationship with regulators.
The California DMV, responsible for regulating autonomous vehicles in the state, accused Cruise of withholding crucial video footage from the investigation. This allegation led to the suspension of Cruise’s permits by the agency.
The video footage, and whether it was intentionally withheld, became the central question addressed in a review conducted by law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. The firm, hired by GM, concluded that Cruise did not deliberately mislead regulators. Instead, a combination of poor judgement, leadership mistakes, a strained relationship with regulators, and a strong desire to correct an inaccurate media narrative all contributed to Cruise’s current problems. The 195-page report states:
“This narrow focus caused Cruise to convey only certain information about the accident to the media, regulators, and government officials, while omitting crucial details. Even after obtaining the full video, Cruise failed to correct the public narrative and continued to share incomplete facts and footage of the incident. This behavior has resulted in accusations of misleading actions by both regulators and the media.”
This is a developing story, and further updates are expected to come to light in the ongoing investigations. Cruise and GM will continue to face scrutiny and potential consequences as they navigate through these challenging circumstances.