Is the future of autonomous cars in jeopardy?
Kyle Vogt, founder of GM-backed self-driving company Cruise, has resigned as CEO of the firm. The 38-year-old shared the news on X in a series of tweets but failed to address the ongoing crises the business is grappling with publicly.
"Today, I resigned from my position as CEO of Cruise," wrote Vogt. He added that Cruise is "just getting started" and has "a great future ahead." The tech entrepreneur also shared some words of encouragement for the colleagues he is leaving behind. "Regardless of what originally brought you to work on [autonomous vehicles], remember why this work matters. The status quo on our roads sucks, but together we've proven there is something far better around the corner."
Vogt's resignation comes weeks after a scathing report exposed safety flaws in Cruise's technology.
An investigation found that the autonomous fleet of Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles had difficulty detecting child pedestrians and large holes in the road, such as those found near construction sites. Undisclosed internal communication proved the company knew about these inadequacies, even though it maintained that its vehicles were fit for purpose.
Late in October, due to safety concerns, the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles revoked Cruise's privilege to operate its autonomous robotaxis in the state. "Based upon the performance of the vehicles, the Department determines the manufacturer's vehicles are not safe for the public's operation," said the DMV. Furthermore, the state agency claimed that Cruise misrepresented information about the safety of its self-driving cars.
This decision came after several Cruise-related incidents on San Francisco's roads.
Earlier this year, a pedestrian was seriously injured in a hit-and-run collision. According to the company, the individual was struck by another vehicle and flung into the path of a Cruise autonomous vehicle, which dragged the pedestrian 20 feet before stopping.
That's bad enough, but the company's cars have been involved in several incidents ranging from the bizarre to the more serious. Aside from a crash that injured several people, a Cruise vehicle recently collided with an emergency vehicle that was responding to a call.
In an internal email seen by Forbes, Vogt wrote on Saturday that he takes "responsibility for the situation Cruise is in today," adding, "There are no excuses and no sugarcoating what has happened. Our approach [in] working with regulators, the press, the public, and other stakeholders simply must improve."
GM CEO Mary Barra has assuaged fears of a liquidation, saying that the company is "intensely focused on setting Cruise up for long-term success."