GM to relaunch Cruise robotaxis in Arizona -- but with human drivers

By Chris Benson

April 9 (UPI) -- General Motors said Tuesday its subsidiary company Cruise will relaunch its autonomous taxi service on American roads but with restrictions and changes, most notably involving humans behind the wheel.

The relaunch of the robotaxi startup owned by GM will begin with a small fleet of human-driven Cruise vehicles in Phoenix and not as self-driving robotic taxis for which the cars and service originally were designed.


The vehicles, instead, will "create maps and gather road information in select cities, starting in Phoenix," the company said Tuesday in a press release in what is, the company says, the first steps for its return to a "driverless mission."

Saying how this "is a critical step for validating our self-driving systems as we work towards returning to our driverless mission," Cruise said this approach "will help inform where we ultimately will resume driverless operations."

But there was no specific time frame for the launch.

"We have not yet made a commitment to where or when we will start supervised or driverless operations," a GM spokesperson told CNBC.

This is first redeployment of these vehicles since the company stopped operating after an Oct. 2 incident in San Francisco in which a pedestrian was dragged nearly 20 feet by a Cruise robotaxi after a minor accident.


On Tuesday, the company said they have made "significant progress, guided by new company leadership, recommendations from third-party experts, and a focus on a close partnership with the communities in which our vehicles operate," adding how they are "committed to this improvement as a continuous effort."

California's Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Cruise driverless robotaxis on Oct. 24, deeming them an "unsafe risk."

"California is a place to watch when it comes to self-driving vehicles," Nathaniel Cline, a policy reporter The Virginia Mercury, said Tuesday on X about the issue involving Cruise' October accident.

At the end of last October, the company said it would "take steps to rebuild public trust" following the incident and other ongoing issues with collisions and regulations.

In November, GM recalled all 950 driverless Cruise vehicles for a software update. That was followed a month later in December when it was announced that 24% of the GM-owned Cruise employees would be laid off.

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