The self-driving robotaxi company Cruise may have had a worse track record of highly dangerous near-misses than previously reported, and faces five state and federal probes into incidents like almost running over children.
It was a terrible news day for the self-driving car company Cruise this past November 8 when two enormously unflattering stories about the their robotaxis broke within about 24 hours — the company decided to recall all 950 of its cars nationwide after that infamous SF pedestrian-dragging incident, and the Intercept exposed internal company documents that disclosed Cruise apparently knew its cars were unsafe around children.
We haven’t heard much about Cruise since they laid off about 25% of their workforce in mid-December and seriously lowered their public profile. But the company must not like a new NBC Bay Area exposé that highlights five separate incidents in which the California DMV and federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating Cruise, including two where their cars almost ran over children.
One of these is seen below.
This Reddit video is of an incident that apparently occurred August 13, obviously in San Francisco. The Cruise vehicle does stop to yield for pedestrians at one side of the intersection, but does not seem to notice two parents and two children crossing on the other side. It nearly collides with them before swerving at the last second, with the parents and children having to jump out of the way, and one of the parents gives the vehicle an angry “WTF!” glance.
Cruise would not respond to NBC Bay Area’s question about the incident, saying they couldn’t comment on an “ongoing federal investigation.” But NBC Bay Area confirmed that this is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) probe, and found the federal documentation of that investigation. That says the NHTSA “received two (2) relevant reports involving pedestrian injuries from Cruise” and “two (2) additional relevant incidents with videos posted to public websites.”
The California DMV is investigating allegations a driverless Cruise car nearly hit a 7-year-old after failing to yield to him and his family while crossing the street in SF last year, according to DMV records obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit. https://t.co/DITRGn49WL
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) February 6, 2024
That doesn’t even count another incident that NBC Bay Area is first reporting, where a seven-year-old was allegedly almost nearly run over by a Cruise car in the Mission District on August 14. A parent named Sascha Retailleau says he, his wife, and their seven-year-old were crossing 20th Street at York Street when a Cruise vehicle “started to accelerate towards us like we weren’t there.”
The California DMV is still investigating that one. “If I didn’t run, it would have hit me, probably,” the seven-year-old Luke told NBC Bay Area. “I felt scared.”
Last month, Cruise offered the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) a $75,000 settlement to make amends for the October 2 pedestrian-dragging incident. That seems low, considering that Cruise may have withheld evidence from regulators on that one, though Cruise claims that a spotty WiFi connection is what withheld the evidence. And 75 grand is certainly low compared to whatever settlement the pedestrian who was dragged 20 feet will get.
Hey, whatever became of that pedestrian? NBC Bay Area has the new information that “After spending more than 90 days in the hospital, the victim was released last month.”