DETROIT — Cruise, the troubled General Motors autonomous vehicle unit, has hired a veteran automotive and technology company safety official for the critical position of chief safety officer.
Steve Kenner, who has held top safety positions at multiple companies over nearly four decades, started the job on Monday, Cruise said in a statement.
Most recently he was vice president of safety at Kodiak, a self-driving truck company, the statement said. He also has held leadership positions at Apple, Uber and Aurora, another company that makes hardware and software for autonomous trucks.
Kenner started his career as an engineer at General Motors and once served as global safety director at crosstown rival Ford.
He comes to Cruise at a pivotal time, four months after a Cruise robotaxi dragged a San Francisco pedestrian roughly 20 feet (6 meters) to the curb at roughly 7 miles per hour (11 kilometers per hour), after the pedestrian was hit by a human-driven vehicle.
But the California Public Utilities Commission, which in August granted Cruise a permit to operate an around-the-clock fleet of computer-driven taxis throughout San Francisco, alleged Cruise then covered up details of the crash for more than two weeks.
The incident resulted in Cruise’s license to operate its driverless fleet in California being suspended by regulators and triggered a purge of its leadership — in addition to layoffs that jettisoned about a quarter of its workforce — as GM curtailed its once-lofty ambitions in self-driving technology.
A new management team that General Motors installed at Cruise following the October incident acknowledged it didn’t fully inform regulators.
“Safety requires that every team within a company work together to put passengers and other road users first,” Kenner said in the statement. “That partnership must include regulators, and I look forward to earning their trust.”