A video has gone viral of San Francisco police pulling over a Cruise robotaxi only to find it completely devoid of humans, a truly driverless self-driving car. “Ain’t nobody in it!” the officer says.
Then, with comic timing, when the officer turns his back, the car – a modified Chevrolet Bolt – drives off, pulling over again on the other side of an intersection, with the police car in pursuit, lights flashing.
Watch police pull a self-driving car
As previously reported, General Motors–backed Cruise started offering automated rides to the public in San Francisco with no safety driver in February.
On the night in question – hilariously 1st April 2022, April Fools’ Day (honestly, you couldn’t make it up!) – officers pulled the car because it was driving at night without headlights. Cruise later said this was due to human error.
The video was posted to Instagram by b.rad916 with the comment: “Confused SFPD pulling over an autonomous vehicle in the Richmond District!! Then it tries to take off!!”, followed by the grinning squinting face and police car emojis.
He later explained: “My friends and I were walking home from dinner down Clement Street when we heard police sirens. We didn’t think much of it but when I looked over, I noticed there was nobody driving, so I pulled out my phone and started recording.
“When the officers got the Cruise autonomous car to pull over, they approached the vehicle and the windows rolled down. Turned out they initiated the stop because it was driving without its headlights on.
“I thought it was funny that the officers were so confused and found it funny (they were laughing and pacing back-and-forth). I also thought it was strange that the cops think it’s necessary for a robot car to need headlights to see. I’m sure the cameras and AI are advanced enough to navigate safely at night and can see better than the human eye.”
What about other cars seeing it though? Anyway, mirth abounded with amused onlookers, presumably quite familiar with these revolutionary cars of the future, laughing and joking… as if they’d been waiting for something like this to happen.
The best comments heard on the video include: “Ain’t nobody in it”, “This is crazy”, “Are you serious? How does that happen?”, “Oh my god I have to watch this”, “Can you send that to me please?”, “Guys… oh my god, finally”, “So it stops when pulled over? Automatically?”, “We’ve got a code 7 here” – apparently a reference to police radio code for out of service to eat – and, simply, “What the f***”.
The San Francisco Police Department reportedly confirmed: “On Friday, April 1, 2022, at approximately 10:00pm officers observed a vehicle travelling without activated headlights at Clement Street and 8th Avenue.
“Officers stopped behind the vehicle and discovered that there was no driver in the vehicle and no other occupant was present. During this contact officers affected a traffic stop. The vehicle moved forward but stopped again to yield for the officers.
“During the stop officers made contact with the remote operator of the driverless vehicle. 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.”
A pretty lenient response, basically: no ticket on this occasion, be on your way.
Cruise responded on Twitter on 10 April: “Chiming in with more details: our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended. An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued.”
Before adding: “We work closely with the SFPD on how to interact with our vehicles, including a dedicated phone number for them to call in situations like this.”
The company also highlighted its November 2021 YouTube video Interacting with a Cruise Autonomous Vehicle: A Guide for First Responders.
Only in California, you might say, but how long before we see such incidents in the UK?