Cruise robotaxis are back in Phoenix — but people are driving them

Mike Powers


Cruise robotaxis are back in Phoenix — but people are driving them

Cruise is redeploying robotaxis in Phoenix after nearly five months of paused operations, the company said in a blog post. The catch? The cars will be in so-called “manual mode,” so they won’t be driving themselves.

Cruise will resume manual driving of its autonomous vehicles to create maps and gather road information in certain cities, starting with Phoenix, the company said Tuesday. The General Motors subsidiary already had a presence in Phoenix before it pulled its entire U.S.-based fleet last year following an incident in San Francisco that left a pedestrian stuck under and dragged by a Cruise robotaxi.

Prior to that incident, Cruise had been announcing launches in new cities — including Dallas, Houston and Miami — at a startling pace. Critics accused the company of expanding too fast and cutting corners on safety.

Now Cruise appears to be going back to basics, a sharp pivot away from the aggressive growth strategy the company was pursuing just last year. During its pause, Cruise continued testing its autonomous vehicle technology in simulation and on closed courses. Creating high-quality maps and gathering road information yet again should allow Cruise to meet elevated safety and performance targets, the company said in its blog post.

Cruise has not announced when or where it will resume driverless operations. The company’s main operations were historically based in San Francisco, but Cruise lost its permits to operate there following the accident. Cruise began expanding its paid service area in the Phoenix area in August 2023. Alphabet’s Waymo — Cruise’s main competitor that’s still active in San Francisco — has operated a paid, driverless robotaxi service in the area since 2020 and last year doubled its service area in downtown Phoenix and launched driverless rides to the airport.

This news is developing. Check back in for updates.





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