California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has temporarily suspended Cruise driverless taxis from operating on San Francisco streets following a recent accident involving a pedestrian. The decision came after the DMV raised safety concerns and accused Cruise of misrepresenting the incident.

On 2 October, a pedestrian was struck and propelled into the path of a Cruise vehicle. Cruise claimed the car detected the collision, stopped, and attempted to pull over to avoid further safety issues. However, the DMV’s analysis revealed that during the hard-braking manoeuvre, the autonomous vehicle collided with and ran over the pedestrian. The DMV also accused Cruise of not providing complete video footage of the incident, leading to concerns about transparency and accountability.

As a result of the suspension, Cruise announced it would be “pausing operations in the city.” The incident has cast a spotlight on the safety of autonomous vehicles, particularly their ability to respond appropriately in situations involving pedestrians. The DMV’s decision represents a setback for Cruise, which had recently gained approval to provide 24-hour taxis for paid trips in San Francisco, marking a significant milestone for the company.

This incident has further ignited the debate surrounding the deployment of driverless vehicles, with critics questioning the readiness of autonomous technology for widespread use on public roads. While proponents argue that autonomous vehicles can enhance road safety and reduce accidents caused by human error, incidents like this raise concerns about the technology’s reliability and its ability to handle complex real-world scenarios.

Both Cruise and Waymo, another company providing driverless taxis in San Francisco, have consistently emphasised the safety benefits of autonomous vehicles. However, this suspension highlights the challenges faced by these companies in gaining public and regulatory trust. The incident could also impact Cruise’s plans for expansion, including its goal to introduce autonomous taxis in other cities, underscoring the need for rigorous safety evaluations and transparent communication in the development of autonomous transportation solutions.