It’s been just over two months since Cruise started letting the people of San Francisco ride on his driverless robot axle, and one of his cars has already collided with police. In a video Originally posted to Instagram last weekend, the user captures the awkward — and somewhat comical — interaction between the San Francisco Police Department and the autonomous vehicle after it stopped for not having its lights on.
After stopping the Chevy Bolt flipped Cruise vehicle, a police officer goes to the window, tries (unsuccessfully) to open the door and begins to walk back to his cruiser. The autonomous vehicle starts pulling away in what at first seems like the perfect start to a police chase, but then stops and puts its hazards at a point further down the road. Police chase the vehicle again, get out and then hover around the vehicle presumably trying to figure out how to turn the headlights back on.
As Cruise spokesman Aaron McLear explained: The edge, the autonomous vehicle didn’t pull away to escape the police — it was trying to find a safer location to stop, a move most human drivers don’t get away with so easily. McLear also confirmed that the SFPD pulled the vehicle over because the headlights were not on, and says Cruise has since resolved the issue.
“The vehicle gave in to the police car and then pulled over to the nearest safe location before the traffic stop,” McLear said. “An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no subpoena was issued. We are working closely with the SFPD on how to interact with our vehicles and have a dedicated phone number they can call in situations like this.”
Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, uses LIDAR technology to power the self-driving capabilities of its vehicles. The company has been using the cars to commute around its San Francisco-based employees since 2017, but has only just opened a waiting list to taxi the city’s general population.
We still don’t know what exactly caused the Cruise vehicle to work without headlights. Perhaps the car’s automatic headlights function was turned off or the darkness around it could not be detected. Anyway, it’s a little worrying. Cruise vehicles are only allowed to drive from 10pm to 6am, which of course makes headlamps quite important.
In 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck a pedestrian on her bicycle on the road in Tempe, Arizona. Subsequent investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that Uber disabled Volvo’s factory emergency braking system to prevent interaction with Uber’s self-driving software, but it’s unclear whether that contributed to the crash.