The Cruise robotaxi service, owned by GM, could potentially be fined for allegedly trying to hide the seriousness of an accident in San Francisco.

The authorities in California are accusing a robotaxi company in San Francisco, which is owned by General Motors, of concealing the true extent of a crash involving one of its self-driving vehicles. This could potentially result in a fine in addition to the recent suspension of its license in California.

The California Public Utilities Commission recently submitted documents indicating that GM’s Cruise service may face a potential penalty of approximately $1.5 million.

The notification instructs Cruise to attend a hearing on Feb. 6 to determine if their robotaxi service provided false information to regulators regarding a pedestrian being hit by one of their driverless cars after already being struck by a human-driven car on the evening of Oct. 2 in San Francisco.

In February, a hearing was held only six months after the commission granted permission for Cruise’s robotaxi service to charge passengers for rides in San Francisco at all hours. This decision was made despite strong opposition from city officials who expressed concerns about the safety of the driverless cars.

Following Cruise’s accident on October 2nd, the California Department of Motor Vehicles took action to halt the operation of their robotaxi service by suspending their license in the state.

The suspension dealt a significant setback to Cruise and its parent company GM. They suffered considerable losses while working on the driverless service, which was expected to bring in $1 billion in revenue by 2025 as it expanded beyond San Francisco.

After experiencing a loss of approximately $6 billion since the conclusion of 2019, Cruise has changed direction as it works to manage the consequences of the October 2nd incident in which a pedestrian was severely injured by being run over. This has also resulted in the recent departure of CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt.

On Monday, GM CEO Mary Barra mentioned that the October crash has provided valuable insights on the importance of transparency and improving the company’s relationship with regulators, without directly mentioning the potential fine.

Barra addressed a group of automotive journalists, emphasizing our determination to improve this technology in order to enhance transportation safety while traveling from one location to another.

Barra mentioned the revamp of Cruise’s leadership, which involved restructuring its government relations and legal departments, as indications of improvement. She expressed confidence in the company’s ability to operate more efficiently.

Cruise released a statement promising to address the Public Utilities Commission’s concerns in a timely fashion. The company has enlisted an external legal team to review their actions following the October 2 incident.

The main concerns surrounding the incident involve how Cruise dealt with a video depicting a robotaxi named “Panini” dragging a pedestrian for 20 feet (6 meters) at a speed of seven miles per hour before finally stopping.

On December 1, a report was submitted discussing Cruise’s handling of disclosures regarding the accident. The Public Utilities Commission claimed that the company attempted to hide information about how their robotaxi responded to the accident for a period of over two weeks.

According to the documents, Cruise’s attempt to hide the truth began with a phone call on October 3rd to a regulatory analyst. During the call, it was stated that the robotaxi had stopped right after hitting the pedestrian, but failed to mention that the vehicle continued to drive for another 20 feet with the injured person trapped underneath.

The regulatory filing states that Cruise did not provide the video footage until October 19. The cover-up lasted for 15 days, according to the PUC, putting Cruise and GM at risk for possible fines of $100,000 per day, totaling $1.5 million.


Tom Krisher, an AP auto writer based in Detroit, contributed to this report.