Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 16, 2024
GM's Cruise Settles for Up to $12M with Victim Dragged Across SF StreetsSource: San Francisco Fire Department

A woman who was severely injured after being hit and dragged by an autonomous Cruise vehicle in San Francisco has been awarded a settlement of $8 million to $12 million by the vehicle's parent company, General Motors, as The SF Standard has reported. The incident occurred on October 2, when the Cruise robotaxi struck the pedestrian at an intersection. She had just been knocked into its path by another car. Instead of stopping immediately, the autonomous vehicle proceeded to drag her for approximately 20 feet before coming to a standstill atop the woman's leg, causing her to scream in pain.

Following the harrowing incident, Cruise faced significant repercussions—the Federal regulators launched an investigation, and the California DMV suspended the company's permit to operate automated taxis. General Motors responded by recalling all Cruise vehicles, which led to the resignation of CEO Kyle Vogt. Meanwhile, the company was accused of withholding evidence related to the case, leading to the ousting of most of its executive team and slashing the Cruise division's budget by a hefty $1 billion. According to reports, Cruise has since worked on rectifying its relationship with regulators and the public, issuing an apology that was quoted in SFist as stating, "We are profoundly remorseful both for the injuries to the pedestrian, as well as for breaching the trust of our regulators, the media, and the public."

The unnamed victim was treated for her serious injuries at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and was later discharged. The SF Standard cited a Cruise spokesperson expressing the company's concern for her well-being: “The hearts of all Cruise employees continue to be with the pedestrian, and we hope for her continued recovery.” Meanwhile, Cruise is taking measures to resecure its driverless permits with the DMV, likely hoping to resume its driverless taxi operations in San Francisco, and is planning a launch in Phoenix, Arizona.

Financially, Cruise has faced turbulence since being acquired by General Motors in 2016, with tax filings indicating losses surpassing $9 billion. The hefty settlement and cuts to their budget highlight the costly risks and setbacks that come part and parcel with pioneering automated driving technology. Despite the serious incident and the subsequent investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that extends to other companies like Waymo and Zoox, it appears autonomous vehicles might continue to coast on city streets as companies persist in pushing forward with this innovative but not yet foolproof transportation revolution.