Cruise, the autonomous ride-hailing service, revealed its decision to lay off an unspecified number of workers, impacting contract employees engaged through third-party vendors and staffing agencies, as confirmed by a Cruise representative to KRON4.
The affected contingent workers were involved in various tasks, including cleaning, charging, and maintaining the autonomous vehicle (AV) fleet, as well as providing customer support. The layoffs come in the wake of reports on Wednesday indicating that Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt deemed these measures necessary during a company executive meeting on Monday, aimed at addressing concerns arising from negative headlines surrounding the General Motors-backed autonomous vehicle service.
Cruise has faced a series of incidents involving its vehicles in San Francisco, including a notable October incident where a Cruise vehicle ran over a pedestrian. Following the incident, Cruise failed to disclose details about the vehicle's attempt to pull over with the pedestrian trapped underneath, leading to accusations of “selective disclosure of video evidence” by San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey.
In response to safety concerns, the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Cruise's autonomous vehicle deployment and driverless testing permits, citing an “unreasonable risk to public safety.” General Motors subsequently announced a recall of all 950 Cruise vehicles to update software and prevent similar incidents.
While Cruise continues limited supervised driving in markets where it has operated previously, it is currently not operating driverless vehicles. A spokesperson mentioned that mapping and supervised testing with a safety driver will persist as essential elements for continuous improvement in technology.