Self-driving car venture Cruise chief resigns after uproar over accident

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The co-founder and chief executive of General Motors-owned Cruise has resigned, weeks after the self-driving car company paused driverless operations and California regulators barred its vehicles from the state’s streets.

Cruise said on Sunday that its board had accepted the resignation of Kyle Vogt and the company was working to “strengthen public trust” in the context of heightened concerns about the safety of its cars.

Vogt’s resignation marks the latest setback for the company, coming weeks after California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked permits for Cruise to deploy cars on public streets following a highly publicised accident in San Francisco.

The DMV in October accused Cruise of misrepresenting details about the accident, in which a female pedestrian was thrown by another vehicle into the path of one of Cruise’s self-driving cars and then dragged for 20ft underneath it. Cruise said it had “proactively shared” information with authorities shortly after the incident.

Days later, the company announced it would pause all operations of its driverless vehicles, which had also been active in the US cities of Austin, Phoenix and Houston. “Supervised” operations, with safety drivers behind the wheel of vehicles, continued.

The driverless halt was necessary in order for Cruise to “take steps to rebuild public trust” and assess its processes and systems, the company said at the time. The “ongoing reviews” would inform Cruise’s next steps as it worked to “build a better Cruise centred around safety, transparency and trust,” the company said on Sunday.

Vogt wrote on the social media platform X that the “last 10 years have been amazing”. “Cruise is still just getting started, and I believe it has a great future ahead,” he said, adding that he planned to spend time with his family and “explore some new ideas”.

No successor has been named, but Cruise said its executive vice-president of engineering, Mo Elshenawy, would take over immediately as president and chief technology officer. He will work alongside Craig Glidden, who will also serve as president and continue in the role of chief administrative officer.

San Francisco this year became the first US city to allow driverless taxis to transport passengers without restrictions and without the supervision of humans behind the wheel. Rival Waymo’s driverless cars are still a common sight on the city’s roads.

Tesla and Amazon-owned Zoox are also racing to develop driverless vehicle technology. Supporters argue the vehicles can be safer and more reliable than human-driven cars.


Business Asia
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