On October 2, 2023, a woman was run over and pinned to the ground by a Cruise robotaxi. Given the recent string of very public malfunctions the robotaxis have been experiencing in San Francisco, it was only a matter of time until a pedestrian was hurt by the self-driving cars. New reports, though, suggest that Cruise held back one of the most horrifying pieces of information: that the woman was dragged 20 feet by the robotaxi after being pushed into its path.
The LA Times reports:
The new details were revealed by the California DMV, the same day the department banned Cruise’s robotaxis from operating on the streets of San Francisco as state officials and NHTSA investigate the company and the incident.
The Times says the company showed a video of the incident to the media, but it appeared to be edited and didn’t include the woman getting pinned. The company also barred the media from posting it publicly.
Experts say Cruise’s actions involving the accident could drastically set back autonomous vehicle tech. Bryant Walker Smith, an expert in autonomous vehicles at the University of South Carolina, said, “One possibility is that this feeds into the narrative of automated vehicles and the companies behind them are suffering and failing.”
As for the company’s part in obfuscating what happened in its own accident, a statement to the LA Times seemed to imply that it was the media’s fault that the initial information regarding the accident was presented the way it was, and that the real person to blame is the driver who hit the woman.
We moved quickly to get information out to necessary parties, with our top priority being to ensure that all officials had access to the information they needed immediately to apprehend the criminal in this situation — the hit and run driver. Initial media reports stated that the Cruise vehicle initially struck the pedestrian and did not mention the hit-and-run driver that caused the incident. Additionally, first responders did not initially mention the hit-and-run driver. It was important to correct the record to show that the incident was initiated by a human-driven vehicle that fled the scene.
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