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General Motors' (GM) Cruise to Restart Operation in Arizona

General Motors’ GM self-driving vehicle subsidiary, Cruise, is set to resume its operation with a small fleet of human-driven vehicles in Phoenix, AZ, after six months.

The company suspended its operation in October, following an accident in which a pedestrian was dragged by Cruise robotaxi after being hit by a different vehicle. After the incident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a recall for the company’s vehicles.

Per the company, Cruise is relaunching manual driving to create maps and collect road information in select cities, starting in Phoenix. The vehicle will operate with human drivers with no intervention from the autonomous system.

The relaunch of vehicles with human drivers will play a crucial role in validating the company’s self-driving systems as it braces to return to its driverless mission. Cruise did not disclose the timeline for resuming its driverless operation.

Per Cruise, after halting the operations in October, it has been focusing on rebuilding trust with regulators and communities that it serves to redesign its approach to safety. Under the supervision of new leadership, suggestions from third-party experts and close partnerships with communities in which the company’s vehicles operate, Cruise has made significant improvements.  

Before the incident, Cruise was aiming to aggressively expand its robotaxi outside its home market. After the incident, the company’s co-founders, including CEO Kyle Vogt, resigned and nine other leaders were dismissed. The company reduced its workforce by 24%.

Beside GM’s Cruise, Alphabet’s GOOG autonomous vehicle unit, Waymo, and Tesla, Inc. TSLA are working on self-driving services.

Waymo currently operates driverless ride-hailing services in Phoenix, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and is ramping up production in Austin, TX. It has signed a multi-year partnership with Uber and will provide its robotaxi to the food delivery company to deliver food in Arizona.

Tesla recently announced to launch its robotaxi on Aug 8, 2024. The robotaxi reportedly utilizes TSLA’s latest vehicle platform. In April 2019, Tesla planned to start operating its robotaxis by 2020. The car was expected to last for 11 years and drive one million miles, helping the company and car operators earn a profit of $30,000 each year.

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