Somewhat later than expected last month, Cruise finally announced this week its robotaxis would return to the road for the first time since last October, when the fleet was parked following an accident with a pedestrian in San Francisco.

Motor Authority reported the relaunch would take place in Phoenix, Arizona, with only two robotaxis operating initially, in each case with a safety driver behind the wheel.

Cruise started service in Phoenix in 2023 and the company also this week said robotaxis would eventually be deployed in other parts of Arizona, including Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Motor Authority noted the didn’t, however, say when it would resume operations in San Francisco, the first city where its robotaxi service was launched and also home to Cruise headquarters.

The report said Cruise had been under extra scrutiny since the accident, in which a female pedestrian was thrown into the path of one of its robotaxis after she was hit by another vehicle in the adjacent lane. The driver of the other non-Cruise vehicle fled the scene.

The Cruise robotaxi braked hard to avoid the impact but still came into contact with the pedestrian, the report said. Following an initial stop, the robotaxi then continued for another 20 feet in an attempt to pull over, which Cruise said was done to avoid further road safety issues. However, the manoeuvre resulted in the robotaxi dragging the pedestrian.

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The California DMV reportedly responded by rescinding the permit which allowed Cruise’s robotaxis to operate without a safety driver. Cruise followed by ceasing operations of its robotaxis nationwide.

Company co-founders Kyle Vogt and Daniel Kan, who at the time were serving as CEO and chief product officer, respectively, quit the next month, `Motor Authority said.

General Motors was the biggest backer of the self driving technology startup, and the automaker, which supplies vehicles for Cruise’s robotaxi fleets, has said it remained committed to the venture.

GM alone had invested close to US$6bn in Cruise since the start of 2020 while Honda, Microsoft, and Walmart had also invested in the company, the Motor Authority report added.