An unusual scene recorded in the city of San Francisco, in the United States, went viral shortly after being posted on social media. In the viral video posted by a Twitter user, a self-driving car flees after being stopped by police in the US.
In the footage, a vehicle owned by Cruise – the autonomous vehicles division of General Motors – is stopped by local police officers who take a brief look inside the vehicle and try to open the driver’s door, but to no avail. After a few seconds and to the surprise of the police, the car starts moving again, in what appears to be the beginning of an escape. The vehicle, however, stops a few meters further on and lights up the hazard warning lights, while it is again approached by police who seem not to know how to deal with the whole situation.
— Seth Weintraub (@llsethj) April 10, 2022
Subsequently, the local police announced that the Cruise vehicle was stopped because the front lights were off and that the police procedures duly followed the protocol adopted in situations like this, not posing any risk to passers-by and drivers who passed by Street.
In an interview with The Verge, the spokesman for the company that owns the driverless car, Aaron Mclear, confirms the reason for the stop and also explains that the autonomous vehicle did not move away to try to escape the police but to find a safer place. to pull over. An attitude that, according to him, “few human drivers would bother to do”.
“The vehicle looked for a safer place to stop. Subsequently, an officer contacted Cruise personnel and no fines were issued. We work closely with the San Francisco Police Department to explain how to interact with our vehicles and we also provide a dedicated phone number for them to call in situations like this.”
The company said it still does not know how to explain what happened to the vehicle’s headlights that were turned off at that moment. Among the main hypotheses is a possible accidental deactivation of the lighting or a failure in the process of detecting darkness by sensors. This error, however, is worrying, since Cruise vehicles are only allowed to travel from 10 pm to 6 am, making headlights very important items for the safety of passengers and third parties.
Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors that started offering robo-taxi rides to San Francisco citizens in early February. Despite the news being recent, the company has been testing its driverless cars in the city of California for years. Cruise‘s robot taxis generally only operate from 11 pm to 6 am, according to the company.
Initially, the rides are free as the company has not yet been allowed to accept paid rides. The company had planned to launch a commercial robot-taxi service in San Francisco in 2019 but failed to do so, and a new date has yet to be released – although it has implied that it will be in 2022.
Today, Cruise is licensed to operate just 52 robot taxis. It operates in about half of the city of San Francisco, excluding some popular and busy areas such as the Market Street shopping corridor. The time chosen for the operation (from 11 pm to 6 am) is linked to the fact that it is a period with less traffic on the streets, which will make the headache less if the car gets confused and blocks traffic. In addition, the nighttime operation is less risky, as robot taxis are still being improved.
To use the Cruise vehicle, the passenger needs to request a trip through an app. When the car arrives, they need to press a button to unlock the doors, allowing the vehicle to enter. The car does not move until passengers fasten their seat belts. If the user has any difficulty, it is also possible to trigger the support in real-time, which can remotely perform actions, such as opening the vehicle’s doors.
Later this year, GM is planning to start production of the Cruise Origin, a purpose-built self-driving bus without traditional controls like steering wheel and pedals. GM had previously planned to produce a version of its Chevy Bolt without steering wheels and pedals but has since put that plan on hold while prioritizing Origin.