General Motors will no longer send self-driving taxis onto the streets for the time being. GM’s autonomous driving division, GM Cruise, had four hundred self-driving taxis operating in San Francisco (California) and another two hundred in Austin, Houston (Texas), and Phoenix (Arizona). This week, the license for autonomous taxis in California was suspended. The California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the permit after GM allegedly withheld video footage of an accident involving a pedestrian in San Francisco. One of the cars in San Francisco braked too late for a pedestrian and then drove for twenty feet while the victim was still underneath the car. The federal regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is also investigating the accident.
The decision is a major setback for GM Cruise, which was about to expand its experiment with self-driving taxis to other American cities and, in collaboration with Honda, also to Japan. GM Cruise says restoring public confidence is now its top priority. That is why all self-driving taxis have been taken off the streets. GM Cruise was currently still driving around with transformed Chevrolet Bolts, the intention being that the Cruise Origin, specially designed for autonomous transport, would eventually take over. For the time being, GM Cruise is in danger of becoming a headache for GM. The company spent €1.3 billion on self-driving cars this year alone. GM CEO Mary Barra reiterated that the company continues to believe in the technology.