GM’s self-driving car division is under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission after a pedestrian towing accident
Cruise, General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit, today revealed that it is the subject of two federal investigations regarding its actions following a serious accident involving a Cruise robotaxi.
In the latest setback in the auto industry’s attempt to improve self-driving cars, the company is under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a post on Cruise’s blog.
An investigation and report commissioned by Cruise and GM and released today found no evidence that Cruise employees or executives lied or misled regulators about the 2023 accident involving a pedestrian, but they also did not volunteer details about what happened.
In meetings with organizers after the Oct. 2 incident, Cruise officials attempted to show a full video of the impact, filmed from the car. But “technical issues” prevented regulators from seeing all of this clearly, according to the report. Cruz did not then provide the organizers with details of what actually happened.
When California regulators later discovered that the Cruze had dragged a woman 20 feet across the asphalt after the collision, causing serious injuries, Cruise’s permits to test fully autonomous vehicles have been suspended in California.
Cruz later halted all testing across the United States and has not resumed those operations.
Cruise’s CEO, other executives and the company also resigned It laid off nearly a quarter of its workforce Shortly after the 2023 Incident.
Cruz assigned the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to investigate the incident and Cruz’s response. The report is the result of this investigation.
“The reasons for Cruz’s failures in this case are numerous: poor leadership, errors in judgment, lack of coordination, an ‘us versus them’ mentality with regulators, and a fundamental misunderstanding of Cruz’s commitments to accountability and transparency to the public,” the investigation concluded. The government and the public,” Cruz posted in a summary of the report.
“Myopic focus” on avoiding blame
Before the accident, Cruise was a pioneer in developing self-driving cars. It plans to expand so-called “robo-taxis” to a dozen or more cities in 2024. GM CEO Mary Barra said she remains focused on the future of autonomous driving. But the accident was a major setback.
Immediately after the incident, Cruz employees themselves were unaware that the woman had been dragged, according to the report. Initially, Cruz staff focused on correcting stories in the media that implied that Cruz’s vehicle had been the first to hit the woman. In fact, a Nissan driven by a human struck the pedestrian first, and that collision pushed it into the path of Cruz’s car.
Even after people at the company learned that the woman had been towed by Cruz’s car, Cruz did not update her press releases or provide the full video to reporters, according to the report.
The report attributed his failure to call to “shortsightedness” in exonerating Cruz of error in the initial impact.
“We acknowledge that we have failed to live up to the justified expectations of regulators and the communities we serve,” Cruz wrote in his letter. Blog post on the report. “In doing so, we also fell woefully short of our expectations.”
Cruz told CNN that he is fully cooperating with the federal investigation but cannot comment on it.
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