Cruise Robotaxi Service Under Review After Anonymous Letter

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Someone claiming to be a Cruise employee sent an anonymous letter to a California regulatory agency expressing concern that the company was launching a robotic taxi service too soon. According to the letter, which was reviewed by TechCrunch, the employee cited the regularity of Cruise robot taxis breaking down in some way and being left on the street, often blocking traffic or ambulances, as one of his biggest concerns.

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The letter also claims that employees “generally do not believe that we are ready for a public launch, but are afraid to admit it due to the expectations of management and investors.”

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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which is responsible for issuing permits for self-driving cars in California, said it was looking into the issues raised in the letter. Wall Street Magazine first announced the intention of the CPUC to investigate the matter.

CPUC granted Cruise permission to deploy without a driverallowing the General Motors-owned company to start charging for autonomous taxi services in San Francisco in early June. The cruise started commercial activity about three weeks ago..

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The Commission has the right to suspend or revoke a driverless vehicle permit at any time if it finds that unsafe behavior is becoming apparent. CPU resolution give Cruz the green light.

Cruz says he has a transparent relationship with regulators and that communication between them is frequent and consistent. The company also said it strictly complies with various reporting requirements and provides additional information to the CPUC as needed.

The employee’s concerns, which were originally sent to the CPUC in May, came to light just a couple of weeks after more than Half a dozen of Cruise’s cars stalled on a street in San Francisco. for nearly two hours, blocking traffic and the intersection. Cruz did not say what caused the problem, but the vehicles needed to be recovered through a combination of remote assistance and manual searches.

“At this time (as of May 2022) there are regular incidents where our fleet of vehicles in San Francisco, individually or in groups, enter a “VRE” or vehicle search event,” wrote an employee who identifies himself as father and an employee working on safety critical systems who has been with Cruise for many years.

When this happens, the vehicle gets stuck, often in lanes where they block traffic and potentially block emergency vehicles. It is sometimes possible to remotely assist a vehicle to pull over safely, but there have been instances where the emergency systems have also failed and it has not been possible to remotely maneuver a vehicle outside of the lanes they block until they have been physically towed from their places. location to the object.

A self-identified Cruise employee also shed light on a potentially “chaotic environment” inside Cruise, specifically around the company’s internal safety reporting system, which Cruise employees use to report any safety concerns they have. The letter writer claims to have submitted a security issue, and more than six months later, the application was still pending, meaning “the risk assessment for the issue itself was not completed.”

He suggests this means the ticket will remain in sorting indefinitely, in part because Cruise doesn’t have the required processing time for such tickets.

“I don’t know if my experience with our security reporting system is representative of most cases, but I believe it is at least indicative of a very chaotic environment that allows this sort of thing to happen,” he wrote.

The letter also states that Cruise does not prioritize documenting the system’s core functions and that the company deliberately withholds investigation results from Cruise vehicles and other sensitive, potentially dangerous matters from most employees.

In June The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a special investigation into the accident in San Francisco involving a cruise car. which resulted in minor injuries.

“As an employee working with safety critical systems, the only reason I can think of why this type of information should be hidden from employees like me is for optics and damage control, and I don’t think it’s compatible with security. first culture,” the self-proclaimed employee wrote.

TechCrunch was unable to confirm if the author of the email is indeed a Cruise employee. Emails sent to the email address listed in the letter went unanswered, and the CPUC has yet to tell TechCrunch if the agency itself has been able to verify its employment.

“Our safety performance is tracked, reported and published by multiple government agencies,” Drew Pusateri, a spokesman for Cruise, told TechCrunch. “We’re proud of it and it speaks for itself.”

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