The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced Tuesday that they have suspended the permit of autonomous vehicle company Cruise from deploying its driverless taxis due to safety issues with its self-driving vehicles.
In a statement, the DMV said:
“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.”
The department did not provide how long the suspension will last, but did provide Cruise the steps needed reapply for the suspended permits. The suspension affects Cruise’s ability for testing with a safety driver.
The suspension notice document from the DMV to Cruise pointed to a severe crash that occurred on Oct. 2, in which a pedestrian was first hit by a vehicle with a driver not operated by Cruise near Fifth and Market streets. The pedestrian then fell into the path of a Cruise vehicle operating autonomous mode, and the pedestrian went underneath the Cruise vehicle.
A day after the crash, the DMV said they met with the California Highway Patrol and Cruise to discuss the crash and review footage from cameras on the Cruise vehicle. The DMV said in the suspension notice that there was more video Cruise allegedly did not share, and the DMV found out later through discussion with another government agency. The DMV said they finally did receive the video from Cruise on Oct. 13 after a request.
Initially, the DMV said they had only seen video footage concluding that the Cruise vehicle made a hard-braking maneuver, but had not seen footage of the Cruise vehicle making a pullover maneuver while the pedestrian was still under the vehicle.
The DMV said the subsequent maneuver of the vehicle indicates that Cruises vehicles may lack the ability to“respond in a safe and appropriate way”during incidents with pedestrians so as to not put the pedestrians at further risk of injury.
Additionally, the department said that Cruise not disclosing the subsequent maneuver of its vehicle in the crash hindered the department’s ability to effectively evaluate the safety of Cruise’s vehicles.
In a statement on its website, Cruise provided a“detailed review” of the crash, adding that the company did provide the full video to the DMV, California Public Utilities Commission, which is a joint regulator with the DMV. The California Highway Patrol was also given the video for review.
Cruise said in a post on X that they learned about the suspension at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and further explained about the Oct. 2 crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into Cruise vehicles following the crash.
It’s been a rough go for the General Motors-backed autonomous vehicle company since receiving approval from the CPUC in August to start operating as a robotaxi service and begin picking and charging passengers any time of the day. Previously, the CPUC had granted the Cruise in 2022 to operate in specific hours and neighborhoods of the city without a driver.
Local city departments have cited their concerns about the citywide launch of more vehicles in the city, including Fire Chief Joanne Nicholson and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
Videos and photos of Cruise vehicles stalling in the middle of the streets, blocking public transit and emergency vehicles have been documented on social media.
At a press conference discussing the upcoming Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Mayor London Breed spoke about the suspension of Cruise’s permit:
“I am really excited about the autonomous vehicles and what they can provide and the fact that San Francisco is a place where it’s happening but I also think it’s important that we balance that with the appropriate safety measures to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to not over saturate our streets when we’re not necessarily ready.”
“San Francisco is a very complex place to drive around in general for the average person. My hope is that as a result of this, they can spend some time working on improving the safety measures because we want to welcome this technology but we want to do so responsibly and safely.”
Jerold serves as a reporter and San Francisco Bureau Chief for SFBay covering transportation, City Hall, and the Mayor's Office in San Francisco. His work on transportation has been recognized by the San Francisco Press Club. Born and raised in San Francisco, he graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in journalism. Jerold previously wrote for the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization. When not reporting, you can find Jerold taking Muni to check out new places to eat in the city.