The California DMV stopped Cruz’s driverless cars in San Francisco

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has immediately suspended Cruz from operating its driverless taxis in San Francisco after it allegedly stopped at the scene of a serious accident involving one of the company’s robotaxis.

The incident, the first serious-injury AV-related accident in San Francisco, happened after a human driver hit a woman crossing Market Street and threw her into the path of a nearby cruise taxi before running off. Authorities have yet to arrest the human driver suspected of causing the crash.

Cruz’s handling of the Oct. 2 crash prompted the suspension by state regulators, according to the DMV’s order of suspension, first reported by Wise.

In that document, the DMV alleges that Cruise representatives initially did not show all of the internal camera footage captured by the robotaxi involved in the crash. Footage released by DMV investigators and the company to reporters of the incident shows the Cruise robotaxi braking hard after hitting the pedestrian.

However, footage obtained from Cruise after the DMV learned of its presence from another government agency shows the robotaxis performing a “pullover maneuver.”

According to the DMV, attempting to pull over after hitting a pedestrian “indicates that Cruz’s vehicles lacked the ability to respond in a safe and appropriate manner during incidents involving a pedestrian so as not to unnecessarily endanger the pedestrian or others. And hurt.”

The suspension means that Cruise Robotaxis cannot be used without a human driver during free or paid rides. The company is still allowed to test its technology with a safety driver.

Cruise and Waymo both received regulatory approval in August to commercially operate their robotaxis around the clock in San Francisco. However, after investigating several recent accidents involving cruise robotaxis, the DMV ordered its fleet reduced by half a week after the approved expansion.

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According to the DMV, the San Francisco-based company “misrepresented” information to regulators regarding the safety of its vehicles’ driverless technology.

The suspension comes weeks after a driverless cruise taxi crashed into a pedestrian crossing at Fifth and Market streets in downtown San Francisco, seriously injuring him.

The incident, the first serious-injury AV-related accident in San Francisco, happened after a human driver hit a woman crossing Market Street and threw her into the path of a nearby cruise taxi before running off. Authorities have not arrested a suspect in connection with the crash.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended General Motors-owned Cruze’s operating permit to operate driverless trips in San Francisco.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The DMV has not said how the Oct. 2 crash turned out in its investigation. In a statement Tuesday morning, Cruise confirmed it was suspending driverless operations in San Francisco.

“Ultimately, we are developing and deploying autonomous vehicles in an effort to save lives,” Cruz said in the statement. “In the incident reviewed by the DMV, a hit-and-run driver fatally struck and drove a pedestrian into the path of the AV. The AV braked aggressively prior to impact, and as it detected a collision, it attempted to pull over to avoid further safety issues. As the AV attempted to pull over, it came to a final stop. Continued earlier, pulling the pedestrian forward.

According to the DMV, Cruise can request a hearing to reinstate its deployment permit, which allows the company to operate its driverless taxis commercially, within five days of its suspension. If that happens, the DMV will issue a hearing within 21 days of the request.

“In order to reinstate their permits, cruises must provide the Department with information regarding how they addressed the deficiencies that led to the suspensions,” the DMV said in an email.

This year has been full of milestones and setbacks in the burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry in San Francisco, where General Motors-owned Cruise and Alphabet-owned Waymo have tried to prove their robotaxis can operate safely and profitably.

An Aug. 10 decision by the California Public Utilities Commission allowed Cruise and Waymo to charge for fully driverless rides throughout San Francisco at all hours, as both companies expand to other cities.

While the technology is booming elsewhere, robotaxis in San Francisco — a notoriously challenging environment for drivers, humans and robots alike — have divided residents and city officials since last year’s surge in driverless operations.

Fire officials have criticized the technology because the occasional erratic behavior of driverless taxis interferes with emergency response efforts. Transportation officials say self-driving cars are disrupting public transportation, transit and construction on local streets.

A fire department spokeswoman told the Chronicle that firefighters in recent weeks have “seen a drop in AV incidents, we feel, because they’ve been ordered to be less on the roadways.”

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