CEO of self-driving cab outfit Cruise parks his career

After string of self-driving crashes, Kyle Vogt plans to 'spend time with my family and explore some new ideas'

Updated The CEO of self-driving cab outfit Cruise has parked his career and strolled off into the sunset.

Kyle Vogt founded Cruise Automation in 2013. The startup was acquired by General Motors in 2016, and worked to develop a driverless taxi service that commenced operations on the streets of San Francisco in 2022.

Cruise has had a bumpy ride ever since. Here’s a timeline of its problems:

  • September 2022: Recalled software after a Cruisemobile caused an accident by incorrectly predicting the behavior of another car;
  • April 2023: Updates software after one of its cars hit a bendy bus – a vehicle it was ill-equipped to predict;
  • August 2023: A Cruise cab drove into wet cement and became stuck;
  • Also in August 2023: Ten Cruise cars froze and caused a traffic snarl, prompting San Francisco authorities to reduce the size of Cruise's permitted robo-car fleet;
  • October 2023: Two collisions with pedestrians, one of which saw a woman hit by a human driver and then fall under the wheels of a Cruise cab, blamed on Cruise's automatic driving system being bad at detecting people;
  • November 7, 2023: Vogt admits Cruise's cars need a human driver aboard to intervene in case of emergency;
  • November 8, 2023: Creates the role of chief safety officer and issues a software patch to improve Cruisemobiles' pedestrian-detection powers, and stop them dragging stricken people along the road;
  • November 17, 2023: Takes its entire fleet off the road after losing its license to operate in California.

Vogt signed off on X (the microblogging service formerly known as Twitter) with a thread that opened with the simple statement: "Today I resigned from my position as CEO of Cruise."

Subsequent posts noted, "The startup I launched in my garage has given over 250,000 driverless rides across several cities," and saw Vogt opine: "Cruise is still just getting started, and I believe it has a great future ahead." He advised he plans "to spend time with my family and explore some new ideas."

At the time of writing, neither Cruise nor General Motors had posted any info about Vogt's departure.

It's not hard to guess why he resigned: CEOs are supposed to do so after a string of SNAFUs like those listed above. The admission that Cruise cars are not fit to operate without a driver is an especially damning failure that suggests new leadership is needed to ensure Cruise can deliver on its mission.

Cruise's cars are midsized SUVs based on General Motors' Chevrolet Bolt. They include a large and faintly menacing array of sensors mounted on their roof racks, including constantly twirling LIDAR units. When your correspondent ventured from Australia to San Francisco earlier this year, he found passing Cruisemobiles more than a little creepy. And that was before US-based colleagues took him to a rather nice bar, from which he walked home rather than riding a Cruise.

AI was widely predicted to take jobs, but in four days it has done for three AI-related execs. First, Stability's veep for audio Ed Newton-Rex quit after objecting to the firm's data-harvesting policy. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was then ejected for vague reasons. Now Vogt has hit the road. ®

Updated to add

Cruise co-founder and chief product officer Daniel Kan has also resigned.

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