CA DMV suspends Cruise driverless car permits amid public safety concerns

ByLena Howland, Ryan Curry KGO logo
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Cruise driverless car permits suspended by DMV
The DMV announced on Tuesday that it's suspending Cruise's autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits, effective immediately.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced on Tuesday that it's suspending Cruise's autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits amid public safety concerns.

The suspension will be effective immediately.

MORE: Woman injured after being struck by SF hit-and-run driver, trapped under autonomous car, Cruise says

This comes just months after the DMV asked Cruise to cut its fleet in half over safety concerns, with multiple incidents in the Bay Area involving crashes and injuries.

EXCLUSIVE: Witness describes saving woman trapped under Cruise car

In an exclusive to ABC7 News, Lee Goins, a witness to the accident that saw a woman trapped under a Cruise autonomous vehicle in San Francisco after being hit by a human-driven car tells us what happened that night.

In an exclusive interview with ABC7 News, Lee Goins, a witness to the accident mentioned above by Cruise described what he saw and what happened that night.

Goins, who goes by the name "Timbuktoo" was driving along the corner of Market Street and Polk Street when he saw the hit-and-run accident. He called the police and even conversed with the hit-and-run driver before he fled.

This announcement also happens to come within an hour of a protest outside of Cruise headquarters, where local leaders were seeking regulations ahead of a massive investment and expansion of Cruise robotaxis into 15 new cities.

The DMV said in a statement: "Public safety remains the California DMV's top priority, and the department's autonomous vehicle regulations provide a framework to facilitate the safe testing and deployment of this technology on California public roads. When there is an unreasonable risk to public safety, the DMV can immediately suspend or revoke permits. There is no set time for a suspension.

"The California DMV today notified Cruise that the department is suspending Cruise's autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits, effective immediately. The DMV has provided Cruise with the steps need to apply to reinstate its suspended permits, which the DMV will not approve until the company has fulfilled the requirements to the department's satisfaction. This decision does not impact the company's permit for testing with a safety driver."

VIDEO: Cruise executive explains how its cars decide what to do in unsafe situations

Mohamed "Mo" Elshenawy, Executive VP of Engineering at Cruise, talks to ABC7 about how its AI and predictive technology works.

A Cruise spokesperson released the following statement:

"We learned today at 10:30 am PT of the California DMV's suspension of our driverless permits. As a result, we will be pausing operations of our driverless AVs in San Francisco. Ultimately, we develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in an effort to save lives. In the incident being reviewed by the DMV, a human hit and run driver tragically struck and propelled the pedestrian into the path of the AV. The AV braked aggressively before impact and because it detected a collision, it attempted to pull over to avoid further safety issues. When the AV tried to pull over, it continued before coming to a final stop, pulling the pedestrian forward. Our thoughts continue to be with the victim as we hope for a rapid and complete recovery.

Shortly after the incident, our team proactively shared information with the California DMV, CPUC, and NHTSA, including the full video. We have stayed in close contact with regulators to answer their questions and assisted the police with identifying the vehicle of the hit and run driver. Our teams are currently doing an analysis to identify potential enhancements to the AV's response to this kind of extremely rare event."

VIDEO: Driverless Cruise car struck by SF firetruck, injuring passenger, company says

Cruise says that one of their driverless cars went through a green light and was hit by a San Francisco firetruck on the way to an emergency scene.

Stay with ABC7 News for updates on this developing story.

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