GM’s robotaxi unit Cruise offers money to settle California crash probe

GM's autonomous vehicle unit Cruise is looking to settle a California regulators' investigation of its response to a pedestrian crash in October

General Motors’ robotaxi unit Cruise on Friday offered to pay $75,000 and step up its reporting of collisions and other incidents to resolve a California regulator’s probe into the company’s failure to disclose details of a pedestrian crash involving a self-driving car.

Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered Cruise to appear at a Feb. 6 hearing, citing it for misleading the commission "through omission" about the extent and seriousness of the accident and "for misleading public comments" about Cruise’s interactions with the agency.

The accident at the center of the controversy occurred on Oct. 2, when a pedestrian hit by another vehicle was thrown into the path of a self-driving Cruise vehicle and dragged for 20 feet as the autonomous vehicle (AV) attempted to pull over. 

The state of California suspended Cruise’s testing permit and the company halted all of its U.S. testing operations in the wake of an accident. A federal investigation was also opened in October by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into pedestrian risks at Cruise.

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Cruise Robotaxi

GM's autonomous vehicle unit Cruise is looking to settle a California regulators' investigation of its response to a pedestrian crash in October. ((Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

CPUC said in December that an official from Cruise called one of the commission’s analysts the day after the crash but "omitted that the Cruise AV had engaged in the pullover maneuver which resulted in the pedestrian being dragged an additional 20 feet at 7 mph."

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Cruise has fired nine executives, including its chief operating officer and chief legal and policy officer over the October crash and cut 24% of its workforce in mid-December. 

Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt and co-founder Dan Kan both resigned in the weeks leading up to the December layoffs. The company has asked for the Feb. 6 hearing to be deferred and has sought an alternative mode of dispute resolution.

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Cruise

A Cruise autonomous robotaxi was in a pedestrian-involved accident in October, which prompted California to suspend the company's testing license and Cruise to halt testing operations around the U.S. (Cruise / Fox News)

A spokesperson for Cruise told FOX Business in a statement, "Cruise is committed to rebuilding trust with our regulators, increased transparency and cooperation with the CPUC, and providing the data and information the Commission needs to ensure that AV service is safe, equitable and accessible."

Cruise noted that its filing offers to enhance its reporting to CPUC with respect to collisions as well incidents involving AVs that have achieved a minimum risk condition "MRC" and must be physically retrieved. 

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The company has retained law firm Quinn Emanuel to examine the company’s response to the Oct. 2 incident, including Cruise’s interactions with regulators, law enforcement and the media.

General Motors, the parent company of Cruise, said in November it would cut costs at Cruise – which lost over $700 million in the third quarter and more than $8 billion since 2016.

FOX Business’s Chris Pandolfo and Reuters contributed to this report.