According to Automotive News, an incident involving a Cruise robotaxi and a pedestrian has not only damaged the company's reputation, but also hurt the entire autonomous vehicle industry.
Over the past year, there have been growing concerns over the company Cruise's self-driving robotaxis. "Problems arose as early as April 2022, when a Cruise robotaxi drove at night without its headlights on. A San Francisco police officer pulled over the car... A month later, a person claiming to be a Cruise employee warned California regulators the company's development approach was not 'consistent with a safety-first culture.' Cruise leadership hid information on crashes from a team that worked on critical safety systems, the whistleblower said" (Automotive News). Things only seemed to escalate as the company accumulated more and more accidents over the coming months, until on October 2nd, a robotaxi confirmed everyone's fears and ran over a pedestrian in San Francisco.
To make matters worse, "Cruise executives omitted a troubling detail about the crash in a meeting the next day with regulators, California DMV officials allege. After its initial stop, the vehicle resumed driving, dragging the victim underneath and potentially causing more injuries" (Automotive News). They later found out the truth during a separate investigation. This raised many issues of trust with the organization and the California DMV declared the self-driving vehicles "unsafe" and suspended the company's driverless deployment and testing permits.
Reilly Brennan, general partner at Trucks Venture Capital, stated that he believes that even just this one AV company facing these accusations will severely damage the entire industry. He says, "'at this point in the cycle … when one fails, all others are intrinsically implicated'" (Automotive News). Most people were already hesitant of the new technology. According to a J.D. Power study, "only 20 percent of U.S. consumers are comfortable with testing autonomous vehicles on streets and highways near them" and now this number is expected to continue to plummet as further skepticism and fear has been instilled in the public (Automotive News).
What do you think will happen with driverless cars? What do you want to happen?
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