Kyle Vogt, the CEO of GM’s autonomous car company Cruise, has stepped down after a series of accidents has put the company’s future in question.
Vogt is one of the best-known faces in the autonomous car tech sector and an outspoken advocate for self-driving cars.
He helped to found Cruise in 2013 and oversaw the company’s rapid rise and ultimate sale to General Motors in 2016 for an undisclosed amount of money, but it was rumored to be around $1 billion.
The company first offered retrofit kits for existing vehicles to turn them into autonomous cars.
Vogt and his team took on the challenge of city driving using software they developed to handle the unpredictable and ever-changing environment.
This culminated in the company gaining a license from the city of San Francisco earlier this year to run a fleet of fully autonomous taxis on a 24/7 basis.
The future seemed very bright for the company and for self-driving cars until a series of unfortunate events led to a near collapse.
Cruise robotaxis were involved in several incidents where the software misread the situation, leading to accidents.
The taxis drove into wet concrete, collided with a firetruck on its way to an emergency, and accidentally ran over a pedestrian who had been struck by a human-driven car.
In this last incident, the woman was dragged to the curb as the robotaxi tried to get out of traffic, which led to the company’s license being suspended and a nationwide mandate to suspend the company’s fleet.
With Vogt’s departure, GM is said to be taking more control of the day-to-day decisions for the company.
While this is certainly not the end of the push for self-driving cars, it is certain to delay the rollout and testing of this and other autonomous car companies like Waymo, Amazon’s Zoox, and Aurora.