General Motors will scale back its spending on its struggling autonomous vehicle wing Cruise Automation, leaving in doubt the future of the unit moving forward.
According to a report from the Financial Times, the cuts will be substantial due to growing safety concerns about the vehicles after a robotaxi ran over a pedestrian who had been hit by another human-driven car. The pedestrian was pulled about 20 feet after becoming pinned under a tire as the robotaxi tried to move off the road.
As a result of the accident, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) removed Cruise’s license to operate driverless vehicles in the state. This prompted Cruise to voluntarily pause all supervised and driverless car testing in the U.S. earlier this month.
The fallout continued as both Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt and Cruise chief product officer Daniel Kan stepped down.
It is unclear where the company goes from here and if GM will resume funding in the future or if it will turn to other companies developing robotaxis as a resource.
This incident is eerily similar to the incident with an Uber robotaxi that happened in 2018 when an autonomous vehicle crash led to the death of a pedestrian. The incident caused Uber to pause all testing and later the company exited the autonomous vehicle market due to the problems it continued to have.
Beyond these earlier issues with Uber, other crashes have caused issues in California such as when Pony.ai robotaxi was involved in an accident where it hit a road divider. This caused the DMV to suspend Pony.ai’s driverless license in the state. That leaves Alphabet autonomous vehicle arm Waymo as the only company currently testing robotaxis on the streets in California without a safety driver.