As automakers continue to develop and test autonomous vehicle technology, is it safe to assume they’re fully committed to a diligent and safe rollout?
We’d like to think so, however one industry insider hints that there may be some problems hiding under the hood of GM’s Cruise driverless program.
Automotive News is reporting that an alleged whistleblower sent a letter to California regulators in advance to the approval of Cruise robotaxis for commercial services in the Bay Area. The anonymous letter was sent by a person claiming to be a current employee within the Cruise driverless program and allegedly describes circumstances "indicative of a very chaotic environment."
The letter writer went on to say that safety issues weren’t being addressed in a timely fashion and that some were even being hidden from the employees. The letter writer concluded that "employees generally do not believe we are ready to launch to the public, but there is fear of admitting this because of expectations from leadership and investors."
Auto News says the California agency who received the letter hadn’t said whether it had been authenticated, just that they would work to investigate the claims.
As for GM, the report quotes Cruise spokesperson Drew Pusateri, who says "(The company’s) safety record is tracked, reported and published by multiple government agencies … We're proud of it and it speaks for itself."
Still, Automotive News points out that Cruise Robotaxis have been involved in some notable incidents recently, including one where a vehicle blocked the path of a fire engine en route to an emergency. Another was involved in an accident that resulted in injuries to occupants in both vehicles and prompted an investigation.
The letter writer said they believed the company's protocols relating to these types of incidents were not "consistent with a safety-first culture."