California DMV suspends permits for self-driving taxis

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The California Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended the permits and vehicle deployment for Cruise’s driverless taxis, citing “an unreasonable risk to public safety.”

The suspension is effective immediately.

The DMV said its autonomous vehicle regulations “provide a framework to facilitate the safe testing and deployment” of autonomous vehicle technology on California’s public roads. “When there is an unreasonable risk to public safety, the DMV can immediately suspend or revoke permits,” the DMV said.

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The DMV notified Cruise of the suspension on Tuesday and provided the company with the steps needed to reapply to reinstate its suspended permits.

The company’s permits can be reinstated, but only after Cruise “has fulfilled the requirements to the department’s satisfaction,” the DMV explained. The DMV said the suspension does not impact Cruise’s permit for testing with a safety driver.

Nexstar’s KRON has reached out to Cruise for a response but has yet to hear back.

There have been a number of high-profile incidents of Cruise driverless vehicles malfunctioning on San Francisco city streets.

Last month, the San Francisco Fire Department accused two Cruise self-driving cars of blocking an ambulance transporting a patient who later died at a hospital.

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“This delay, no matter how minimal, contributed to a poor patient outcome,” the fire department wrote in records obtained and published by Forbes. Cruise argued at the time that its data shows its autonomous vehicles have encountered emergency crews more than 168,000 times without any problem.

In August, a driverless Cruise vehicle and a fire engine collided, and in April, another Cruise car tried to “squeeze” passed a fire engine and battalion chief’s vehicle. That same month, Cruise recalled the software used by its autonomous cars after one of its taxis collided with a San Francisco city bus.

In April 2022, a Cruise vehicle was pulled over by a police officer only to apparently drive off when the officer turned his back. The company told KRON the vehicle was stopped because it did not have its headlights on “due to human error.”

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