In his first major public interview since the DMV cut their San Francisco fleet in half, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said “we cannot expect perfection” from the self-driving cars, and acknowledged a possibility they could leave town if regulators curtail them any further.
The self-driving robotaxis of GM subsidiary Cruise and Google-owned Waymo seemed like they were heading in a successful direction when they won approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last month to run their self-driving robotaxis at all hours in SF without restrictions.
But barely a week later, the California DMV demanded Cruise cut it SF fleet in half, following post-Outside Lands stalling incidents, a night of multiple accidents, and SF City Attorney David Chiu filing a motion to get the CPUC to reverse their decision.
Cruse CEO Kyle Vogt sat down for a (very friendly) 40-minute interview Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, which can be seen in its entirety above. And he seems to be going on offense against the regulatory pushback his company is getting from SF and California lawmakers.
“It's kind of fun as a society to poke at the differences between AVs (autonomous vehicles) and humans, but if we're serious about safety in our cities, we should be rolling out the red carpet for AVs,” Vogt said, according to the SF Standard.
“We cannot expect perfection; there still will be collisions,” he added, per Mission Local. “I see this as the beginning of a conversation with regulators, with city officials, on the reality that these vehicles are here.”
But about that “conversation.” TechCrunch transportation editor Kirsten Korosec asked Vogt about City Attorney Chiu’s recent motion to halt the CPUC’s expansion approval. “There is a push to have both Waymo and Cruise's last permit revoked,” Korosec said. “And if that happens, is Cruise committed to staying in San Francisco?”
“Well, if it gets to that point, we can have that discussion,” Vogt responded. “But there was a democratic process here, the public utilities commission who voted on that had hundreds of people come up to speak, dozens of people got to submit letters of support for AVs. There were far more letters of support than against and that commission ruled. So I think the people have spoken when it comes to whether or not they want AVs.”
TechCrunch has their own writeup of Vogt’s session, which focuses more new Cruise models, on attempts to winterize the vehicles for cold weather markets, and other cities they’re considering expanding into.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist