Amman’s departure comes at what’s already a tumultuous time for Cruise. The company has squabbled in recent weeks with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which said in a November letter that Cruise self-driving test vehicles had frequently double parked in violation of the city’s vehicle code. Further, the letter, written by SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin, questioned whether Cruise provides or could later provide adequate services to disabled customers.
“While San Francisco remains hopeful and optimistic that driving automation can and ultimately will improve road safety, recent developments have given San Francisco concern that the Cruise automated driving system is not currently designed to comply with state and local traffic regulations that govern passenger services Cruise proposes to deploy commercially in San Francisco,” Tumlin wrote.
The letter was addressed to the California Public Utilities Commission, from which Cruise needs a driverless deployment permit in order to commercially operate.
In a Dec. 6 response, Cruise disputed the SMFTA’s claim that double parking was not restricted in instances the public-transit agency had observed, and said it had conducted the pickup and drop-off of passengers in compliance with local vehicle codes. A lawyer for Cruise said the company had met necessary requirements to obtain a permit.
“Cruise is ready and prepared to commence our commercial service,” wrote the lawyer, Aichi N. Daniel, who requested the CPUC approve the company’s permit “at the next possible commission meeting.”
On the cusp of that approval, Amman’s departure leaves further questions.
Denial or delay of a permit would spell major trouble for Cruise, which has relegated almost all of its testing in recent years to San Francisco and foresees the city as the first market for commercial operations. Competitors such as Zoox and Waymo also see the city as an early market, and the latter has ramped up testing in the city over the past five months while rolling out a “Trusted Tester” program.