Cops stop a driverless taxi in San Francisco, hilarity ensues

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The idea that masses of autonomous vehicles could one day carry passengers through city streets and American highways raises big questions: Can a computer ever match the safety and intuition of a driver? human ? Will street design need to be redesigned? Does society need this technology in the first place?

Then there are all the little details that need to be ironed out. For example: what happens when a driverless car is stopped?

An incident earlier this month involving the San Francisco Police Department and a driverless taxi from startup Cruise sheds some light on this particular issue. Luckily, someone captured the awkward and somewhat hilarious moment on video and posted it to Instagram.

Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, began piloting a driverless taxi service in San Francisco in February. Users can request rides through an app between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

In the video, the Cruise vehicle pulls to the side of the road, allowing a police officer to get out of his car, walk to the driver’s side and try to open the door. “There’s no one in there!” yells a passerby.

Then the Chevrolet Bolt, equipped with a large array of sensors on its roof, swerves through an intersection before coming to a stop again, this time with its hazard lights on. “How is it going?” says another person. Three police tenders get out of their vehicle and look inside the cruiser taxi as onlookers laugh at the situation.

A spokesperson for Cruise told Insider the vehicle was pulled over on April 1 for failing to turn on its headlights. This is precisely how cruise vehicles are programmed to behave, the company said in posts on Twitter.

“Our AV yielded to the police vehicle and then pulled to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop as planned. An officer contacted Cruise staff and no citation was issued. “Cruise said. mentioned. The company mentioned he has a dedicated San Francisco Police Department phone line to call in situations like this.

In a statement to Insider, the San Francisco Police Department said the stop happened around 10 p.m. and after officers contacted Cruise, a maintenance crew came and took control of the vehicle.

The question of what happens and who to blame when an autonomous vehicle breaks the law or gets into an accident is not new. In 2018, a pedestrian was killed by one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles, which was being tested. The rescue driver in that crash has been charged with negligent homicide.

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