California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has suspended Cruise’s autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits due to safety concerns. The suspension is effective immediately and does not impact the company’s permit for testing with a safety driver.
Cruise, a General Motors subsidiary, started testing its autonomous cars in San Francisco several years ago and introduced a limited driverless taxi service in the city last year. However, the DMV cited safety concerns for the suspension, which came after a series of traffic mishaps, including one this month when a Cruise car dragged a pedestrian 20 feet after a crash.
The DMV stated that when there is an unreasonable risk to public safety, it can immediately suspend or revoke permits. Cruise can still test its autonomous cars in California, but they must have safety drivers who can take over in an emergency.
Cruise said it would pause its driverless operations in San Francisco and was working on enhancements to the cars’ technology. The suspension is a major setback for Cruise, which has faced increasing scrutiny since the state’s Public Utilities Commission allowed the company and rival Waymo to expand testing of their robotaxis in San Francisco.
The suspension marks a serious setback for the driverless vehicle industry, which has faced charges of under-regulation even as Cruise and others plan to expand to new cities across the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it was investigating Cruise after receiving reports of incidents where the company’s autonomous vehicles did not use proper caution around pedestrians in roadways. Cruise has better safety records than human drivers, according to General Motors CEO Mary Barra.