By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors’ Cruise said on Monday it has named a longtime auto and technology industry employee as head of safety for the robotaxi unit.
Cruise has named Steve Kenner as chief security officer, who will oversee Cruise’s security management systems and operations.
Kenner began his career at GM in 1978 and previously worked as global director of automotive safety at Ford, among other jobs. He was most recently vice president of safety at Kodiak, an autonomous trucking company, and has also worked at Apple, Uber, Locomation, Chrysler and Aurora.
Kenner’s appointment comes at a critical time for Cruise.
On October 2, in San Francisco, a pedestrian struck by another vehicle was thrown into the path of an autonomous Cruise vehicle and dragged 20 feet.
Subsequently, California suspended the company’s driverless testing license and Cruise withdrew all of its U.S. autonomous vehicles from testing. The unit’s CEO, Kyle Vogt, and co-founder Dan Kan resigned in November.
“Safety governance is a critical starting point as we return to our mission and put cruise cars safely back on the road,” said Cruise Co-Chairman Mo Elshenawy.
Cruise commissioned a report from law firm Quinn Emanuel that found the company did not intend to mislead. A separate technical review by engineering firm Exponent found the Cruise vehicle suffered from mapping errors and incorrectly identified the collision with the woman as a side collision, the report said. Cruise has since updated its software.
In December, Cruise announced it was cutting its workforce by 24%, and GM announced last month it would cut spending at Cruise by about $1 billion in 2024.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has separately opened an investigation into pedestrian risks at Cruise.
Last week, Cruise moved to resolve an investigation by a California regulator into his delay in disclosing details of the Oct. 2 pedestrian accident.
Kenner said in a statement that he hopes to gain the trust of regulators. “We have the same goal as regulators: to make our roads safer and build public trust in the broadcast industry.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)