About 11 days after General Motors’ autonomous car unit, Cruise, halted all autonomous vehicle deployment across the US following several collisions and a suspension of its permit to operate robot taxis in California, Forbes revealed that Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt held an all-hands meeting Monday to halt production of its fully autonomous vans temporarily.
The fallout continues as Vogt, according to audio obtained by Forbes, told employees that suspending driverless operations nationwide was the primary reason why it must pause “production of the Origin” van.
The Origin operates fully autonomously and has no steering wheel or pedals. This halt represents a significant setback for Cruise, which has faced regulatory scrutiny following an incident where one of its vehicles dragged a woman who had been struck by another car. Furthermore, an investigative piece by The Intercept revealed Cruise’s software has “problems recognizing children.”
Vogt said Cruise has produced hundreds of Origin vehicles and “more than enough for the near-term when we are ready to ramp things back up.”
“During this pause, we’re going to use our time wisely,” he explained, noting that Cruise was actively talking with regulators about its issues.
“And so if we want to rebuild trust with these groups, we have got to make sure that we are having those discussions and they hear things from us first and not from the press,” he said, adding, “So, candidly because we’ve had some leaks about information coming out of this meeting we have got to be careful what we share from this meeting, or these efforts to rebuild trust could backfire.”
Forbes spoke with a GM spokesperson who confirmed that the company was “temporarily” pausing production of the robot vans.
“More broadly speaking, we believe autonomous vehicles will transform the way people move around the world, and the Origin is an important part of the AV journey – it’s the first scalable vehicle ever designed specifically for autonomous rides and will make transportation more accessible,” the spokesperson said.
So much for robo-taxis revolutionizing the world of transportation… Whatever happened to Tesla’s dream of robot-taxi fleets?