After years of working on its self-driving Robotaxi fleet of vehicles, GM’s Cruise recently received regulatory approval to drive on select streets in California and charge customers for taxi rides. However, things aren’t off to a good start, and now the platform is under review.
Cruise was cleared 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’re not offering rides to the public yet.
Since receiving its approval, we’ve seen dozens of Cruise vehicles bunch together, stop completely, and cause big traffic jams. And in early July, one was involved in a car crash that resulted in injuries. We’re not yet sure if the Cruise autonomous vehicle was at fault.
And now, California regulators are looking into Cruise after it received what the Wall Street Journal reports as an anonymous letter from an employee voicing several concerns over the robotaxi platform.
In the letter, an employee of several years said the self-driving robotaxi service isn’t ready to go public, and Cruise is pushing ahead too early. The whistleblower describes a “chaotic environment” that prevented the system from addressing employee safety concerns. And that one report ran up the chain hadn’t been seen after six months of the filing. Here’s an alarming excerpt from the note.
“Employees generally do not believe we are ready to launch to the public, but there is fear of admitting this because of expectations from leadership and investors.”
Furthermore, the big traffic jam reported a few weeks ago is nothing new. The anonymous employee said these Cruise cluster incidents happen frequently and often require tow trucks or humans to intervene and move vehicles from the road.
It’s important to remember that Cruise is still a brand new service, rapidly changing and evolving daily. Additionally, these autonomous taxi vehicles can’t drive anywhere in the city. They’re limited to select streets, at night, at slow speeds, and only during optimal weather conditions.
Still, it’s concerning to see so many issues during its first month on the streets, and even worse, employees feel the need to reach out with anonymous letters.
For now, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is aware of the letter and looking into the situation. We’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out or if Cruise hits the brakes.