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Report: ‘Poor leadership’ at self-driving car company Cruise following robotaxi crash

By Jake Beardslee · January 26, 2024

In brief…

  • Company culture criticized for lack of transparency and "us vs them" mentality
  • Cruise failed to properly inform regulators, tried deflecting blame
  • Vehicles still grounded as investigations continue into incident
  • Comes amid turmoil for self-driving company with layoffs, departures
A report revealed major issues with transparency, culture, and leadership at autonomous vehicle company Cruise stemming from its handling of an October accident in San Francisco involving one of its robotaxis.  Dllu/Wikimedia

A new report reveals significant issues with culture, leadership, and transparency at self-driving company Cruise following an October accident involving one of its vehicles in San Francisco. While the third-party investigation found no evidence Cruise intentionally misled regulators after the incident, it highlighted “poor leadership” and an “us versus them” mentality that led to failures in accountability.

The report stems from controversy after a Cruise autonomous vehicle dragged a pedestrian 20 feet on October 2nd after they were struck by another car. In initial meetings, Cruise representatives tried showing video of the incident but had technical difficulties. They then failed to properly inform regulators of key details, and some employees attempted to deflect blame. Decisions to withhold certain information, particularly from media, were made by then-CEO Kyle Vogt.

Investigators concluded Cruise’s lack of transparency caused many to accuse the company of being misleading. The reasons cited include “poor leadership, mistakes in judgment, lack of coordination, an ‘us versus them’ mentality with regulators, and a fundamental misapprehension of Cruise’s obligations of accountability and transparency to the government and the public.”

Cruise said it “accepts” the report’s conclusions and will act on all recommendations. Its vehicles remain grounded as regulators continue investigating. The findings are another blow for the self-driving company after high-profile departures, layoffs, and operational setbacks.