General Motors’ self-driving car unit Cruise on Thursday announced it was laying off about 8 percent of its staff, according to an internal e-mail.
That makes it the latest autonomous vehicle technology firm to cut staff as the coronavirus pandemic has shut down the economy and dried up funding. Even before the pandemic, the autonomous driving industry faced challenges, with the promise of large-scale rollouts of so-called robotaxis pushed out by many years.
“In this time of great change, we’re fortunate to have a crystal clear mission and billions in the bank. The actions we took today reflect us doubling down on our engineering work and engineering talent,” Cruise spokesperson Milin Mehta told Reuters.
Before the layoffs, Cruise had 1,800 full-time employees.
According to the internal e-mail to staff by Cruise Chief Executive Dan Ammann on Thursday, the layoff includes staff at an engineering team in Padasedna, California, that works on lidar, a sensor technology that uses pulsed laser light to sense objects, similar to the way radar uses radio waves. Lidar startups had mushroomed when self-driving car tech drew billions of dollars and hype.
Starsky Robotics, a five-year-old San Francisco startup focused on automating long-haul freight delivery, closed its doors in mid-March due to lack of funding. And according to multiple reports, Zoox, a self-driving tech firm based in Silicon Valley, also laid off staff during the pandemic.