Self-driving robotaxis from GM subsidiary Cruise will appear on the streets of only a single city once operations resume, the autonomous vehicle company said on the day before Thanksgiving in an email to its employees.
For at least the time being, this represents a significant retreat from the previous Cruise strategy of rapid expansion that saw its AVs accepting fares, testing, or preparing to test on the streets of 13 cities in America, Automotive News reports.
Further underlining the uncertainty of its future, Cruise did not specify which metropolitan area its self-driving vehicles would resume operations in, how many would be deployed, or when the new plans would go into effect.
The news comes as GM suspended production of the Cruise Origin, the driverless all-electric robotaxi it built from the ground up as a lower-cost, more spacious replacement for its current modified Chevy Bolt EV autonomous vehicles. No Origin production at all will occur in 2024, and no plan is currently in place to resume production of the model at a future date.
A Cruise representative stated that the subsidiary will “focus on the Bolt-based Cruise AVs in the near term,” while looking toward “a longer-term strategy around the Origin.”
Cruise has suffered a series of major setbacks starting when the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended its driverless operations in late October. The suspension followed an accident in which a human-driven vehicle hit a pedestrian and threw them under a Cruise AV, which then attempted to pull over and dragged the pedestrian a short distance before stopping.
The GM subsidiary briefly continued running its fleet with human safety drivers on board to provide “supervised” rides, but then halted those operations as well. The founder and CEO of the driverless vehicle enterprise, Kyle Vogt, resigned several days ago, with Daniel Kan, co-founder and CPO, handing in his resignation the following day.
Meanwhile, American officials are assuring the public they will do everything in their power to make future self-driving vehicle deployments safe for others sharing the road.