GM’s Cruise to resume testing its robotaxi service in Phoenix

The robotaxi company has been working to earn the public’s confidence after one of its cars struck and dragged a pedestrian in San Francisco in October. — Reuters

General Motors Co’s Cruise autonomous driving business is preparing to resume testing its robotaxis with safety drivers in Phoenix, marking an important step in its attempts to resume service after grounding its fleet last year.

The company is set to announce and begin the testing as early as Tuesday, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. In recent months, Cruise has been in talks with officials in 20 metropolitan areas where it previously ran cars or had started mapping in preparation to run them. Phoenix is a natural place to start as Cruise already has vehicles in the area and city officials were open to the idea of its return, said one of the people, who asked not to be named as the plan isn’t public.

Cruise spokesman Pat Morrissey said in an email that the company “had not set a timeline for deployment. We are in the process of meeting with officials in select markets to gather information, share updates and rebuild trust.”

Getting Cruise back on the road is important for GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra, who has pledged to take the carmaker to leadership in electric vehicles and self-driving technology during her tenure. The robotaxi business was supposed to be a key part of her goal to double revenue to US$280bil (RM1.33 trillion) by 2030. With Cruise’s problems and a slowdown in EV sales growth, that target looks tougher to reach.

The robotaxi company has been working to earn the public’s confidence after one of its cars struck and dragged a pedestrian in San Francisco in October. Following the incident, California regulators alleged that Cruise initially withheld key footage and details of the incident, which ultimately resulted in the suspension of Cruise’s license in California.

After that, Cruise suspended all operations nationwide, took the resignation of founder and former CEO Kyle Vogt, dismissed nine top executives and laid off a quarter of its workforce. The company later hired a new chief safety officer.

Getting back on the road will be just the first move in a long road to recovery for Cruise. When the October incident occurred, Cruise was charging fares in San Francisco, Austin and Phoenix. The company was also gathering data in preparation to eventually launch across the US, with Atlanta, Seattle, Miami, and Raleigh, North Carolina, possibly following cities in Texas. – Bloomberg

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