Austin/ Retail & Industry
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Published on November 17, 2023
Cruise Suspends Public Road Operations in Austin Amid Safety Concerns and Efforts to Rebuild Public TrustSource: Dllu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cruise, a California-based autonomous vehicle firm, recently suspended all public road operations, including those with human supervision according to the Statesman. This follows an October incident where a cruise car struck and dragged a pedestrian.

The company is prioritizing rebuilding public trust in the wake of the incident as mentioned in their blog post. They plan to run vehicles in closed-course training environments and simulators during this pause. Cruise, a General Motors subsidiary, launched in Austin in September 2022 and initiated driverless ride-hailing services in select Austin areas in December 2022.

Concerns about Cruise's Austin operations have emerged due to viral videos showing traffic jams and halted vehicles. City Council Member Zohaib "Zo" Qadri voiced concerns about Cruise's in-city operations. A federal probe from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is also in progress, examining pedestrian precautions taken by self-driving vehicles.

In a conversation with Texas Standard, Dan Solomon, a Texas Monthly writer, spoke about Texas' autonomous vehicle operations. Solomon shed light on the complex challenges that autonomous vehicle companies face. According to Solomon, while regulations are in place, it is difficult to monitor technological advancements. Others, like Waymo and Volkswagen, are also grappling with similar issues in Austin.

Despite Cruise-related incidents, Solomon reckons autonomous vehicles bring potential benefits, particularly to the disabled. He does, however, question current technology's ability to ensure absolute safety for passengers and pedestrians.

Cruise recently announced a voluntary software recall on 950 vehicles. This addresses the post-collision behavior of a Cruise vehicle in response to situations where the vehicle may undesirably pull over. Cruise has been terminating contract workers supporting ride-hailing services. The company neither clarified if Austin workers were affected nor revealed the number of positions abolished according to a Statesman report.