General Motors self-driving Cruise vehicles have been operating as taxis in San Francisco since February. The service has been a hit with locals with no major issues of note. Unfortunately, that changed last week when one autonomous car had a run-in with police. The strange incident, which took place on April 2nd, was captured on camera by onlookers. But the video only gained traction online when publisher Seth Weintraub shared it on his personal Twitter over the weekend.
In the clip, San Francisco police are seen attempting to pull over the autonomous car in the city’s Richmond District. An officer goes up to its window, tries to open the door, and walks back to his cruiser after being unsuccessful. Then the Chevy Bolt-turned-Cruise starts to drive away. But after crossing the traffic intersection, puts its hazards on and pulls over. At this point, the very confused police officers drive up behind it once more. They proceed to get out of their vehicle and hover around the Cruise as they try to figure out what to do next.
Check out the video of San Francisco police officers trying to stop an autonomous car below:
During the entire three-minute clip, the officers seem unsure of how to deal with the autonomous car. Addressing the situation in an interview with The Verge, Cruise spokesperson Aaron Mclear explained that the Cruise wasn’t trying to escape the law. It was just trying to find a safer location to stop. He also confirmed that the SFPD pulled over the vehicle for not having its headlights on – an issue that has since been fixed by Cruise.
“The vehicle yielded to the police car then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop,” Mclear told the publication. The spokesperson added that an officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued. He also said that Cruise works closely with the San Francisco Police Department on how to interact with their autonomous cars. They also have a dedicated phone number for them to call in situations like this.
The official report from the SFPD confirmed the statement from Cruise. The document explained the events seen in the mini video and stated that officers made contact with the remote operator of the autonomous car. “Upon the officer’s notification, a maintenance team responded to the vehicle’s location and took control of the vehicle. No citation was issued during the traffic stop,” the report via The Verge said.
Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors and uses LIDAR technology to operate its autonomous cars. Since 2017, the company has been using these vehicles as the preferred mode of transport for its San Francisco-based employees. But the service has only just opened a waiting list to shuttle around the general population. It’s still unclear why the Cruise was driving without its headlights on. The automatic headlights function could have been disabled or failed to detect the darkness. Whatever the reason, since the vehicles are only allowed to operate from 10pm to 6am, it’s a little concerning.