Cruise robotaxi service under review following anonymous letter – TechCrunch

Someone claiming to be a Cruise employee sent an anonymous letter to a California regulator expressing concerns that the company is rolling out its Robotaxi service too soon. The employee cited the regularity of instances of cruise robotic taxis failing in some way and being stranded on roads, often blocking traffic or emergency vehicles, as one of his top concerns, according to the letter reviewed by TechCrunch.

The letter also claims that employees “generally do not believe we are ready to go public, but are afraid to admit so due to executive and investor expectations.” Cruise has responded with results from an April 2022 survey of over 2,000 employees, in which 94% of respondents agreed, “Safety is a top priority here.”

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which is responsible for issuing driverless car permits in California, said it is reviewing the issues raised in the letter. The Wall Street Journal first reported the CPUC’s intention to investigate the matter.

That CPUC granted Cruise a permit for driverless usewhich will allow the General Motors-owned company to begin charging fares for autonomous ridesharing services in San Francisco in early June. Cruise started commercial operations almost three weeks ago.

The Commission has the power to suspend or revoke an autonomous vehicle permit at any time if it finds unsafe behavior is becoming apparent, the EU said CPUC resolution to give Cruise the green light.

Cruise says it has a transparent relationship with regulators and that communication between the two is frequent and consistent. The company also said it strictly follows a variety of reporting requirements and will provide additional information to the CPUC as needed.

The employee’s concerns, originally submitted to the CPUC in May, come to light just a few weeks after more than Half a dozen of Cruise’s vehicles stalled on a San Francisco street Traffic and an intersection blocked for almost two hours. Cruise didn’t say what caused the problem, but the vehicles had to be recovered through a combination of remote assistance and manual recovery.

“Currently (as of May 2022), there are regular incidents where our San Francisco vehicle fleet enters a “VRE” or vehicle retrieval event, individually or in clusters,” wrote the employee, who describes himself as a father and employee safety-critical Systems, who has been with Cruise for many years.

In this case, a vehicle is stranded, often in lanes where it is blocking traffic and potentially blocking emergency vehicles. It is sometimes possible to remotely assist the vehicle to stop safely, but there have been a few instances where fallback systems have also failed and it has not been possible to remotely maneuver the vehicle out of the blocked lanes until they are physically clear of their location were towed to a facility.”

The self-proclaimed Cruise employee also shed light on what can be a “chaotic environment” internally at Cruise, particularly around the company’s internal security reporting system, which Cruise employees use to report any type of security concern. The writer of the letter claims to have reported a security concern and more than six months later the ticket was still pending, meaning “a risk assessment on the concern itself is ongoing”.

This, he suggests, means the ticket will remain in triage indefinitely, in part because Cruise does not have required processing time for such tickets.

“I don’t know if my experience with our security reporting system is representative of the majority of cases, but I believe it at least indicates a very chaotic environment that allows for things like this,” he wrote.

The letter also states that Cruise does not prioritize documenting core system functionality and that the company intentionally conceals the results of investigations into collisions involving Cruise vehicles and other sensitive, potentially harmful matters from the majority of employees.

In June, the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a special investigation into an accident in San Francisco involving a Cruise vehicle which resulted in minor injuries.

“As an employee who works on safety-critical systems, the only reason I can think of hiding this type of information from employees like me is for the purpose of optics and damage control, and I don’t think it has to do with a safety.” – first culture,” wrote the self-proclaimed collaborator.

TechCrunch could not confirm whether the author of the letter is actually a Cruise employee. Emails sent to the email address provided in the letter went unanswered, and the CPUC has not yet told TechCrunch whether the agency itself was able to verify his employment.

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

This article has been updated with more information from Cruise.

Cruise robotaxi service under review following anonymous letter – TechCrunch Source link Cruise robotaxi service under review following anonymous letter – TechCrunch

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