General Motors' automated driving division Cruise has suffered another blow as one of its founders departs. Formerly one of the leaders in driving automation, Cruise has been in a slump since one of its vehicles hit and dragged away a pedestrian in San Francisco.
Kyle Vogt, one of Cruise's two founders and later its CEO, declared Sunday on X that he had quit the company a decade after starting it. Vogt's departure likely stems from the Oct. 2 incident wherein a Cruise AV dragged away a pedestrian knocked into the vehicle's path by a hit-and-run. Cruise did not disclose that its vehicle had dragged the pedestrian 20 feet under the car while initially corresponding with regulators. When this information came to light, California suspended Cruise's permit to operate driverless vehicles on public streets.
Cruise also paused operations of its "supervised" AV fleet thereafter, which seemingly returned to service this month according to the company blog. However, employee morale at Cruise remains low according to TechCrunch, which reports the company has yet to find a replacement CEO and has laid off contracted workers.
On top of that, Cruise continues to hemorrhage cash, losing $728 million in Q3 and $8 billion since inception according to Reuters. GM CEO Mary Barra has remained supportive of Cruise, but GM's technical partner Honda has reportedly frozen further investment in the firm.
Cruise was founded in 2013 when vehicle automation looked like a surefire near-future technology. While pioneer Tesla pledged to have a driverless vehicle that could cross the country solo by 2017, the closest a publicly sold car has gotten is Mercedes partial eyes-off assist, which only arrived this year. Vehicular autonomy looks further out than ever, and increasingly like a money sink with little potential for payoff—if any at all.
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