General Motors’ self-driving vehicle subsidiary Cruise is currently testing its fully driverless, Chevy Bolt EV-based autonomous test vehicles on public roads in San Francisco – with the state of California’s permission, of course. While Cruise has received the go-ahead from California officials to test its driverless AVs in the real world, the company is still beholden to all the same rules of the road as the general public is, meaning the company’s test cars can still be pulled over and given citations for driving infractions.
— Seth Weintraub (@llsethj) April 10, 2022
An Instagram user filmed a rather fascinating interaction between San Francisco’s finest and one of Cruise’s driverless AVs earlier this month. The video shows a Chevy Bolt EV-based autonomous test vehicle that has been pulled over by a police officer, who then gets out of his patrol car and approaches the driver’s side of the vehicle, assuming there will be a human behind the wheel. The police officer appears surprised to see that the vehicle is unmanned and is instead being driven by Cruise’s sophisticated algorithm. When he attempts to go back to his squad car, presumably to ask his higher-ups what to do in such a situation, the Cruise AV drives away before pulling over once again about 100 meters down the road.
A Twitter user shared a screen-captured version of the video on the social media platform over the weekend. Cruise responded to this tweet providing more information on this interaction with the SFPD and how Cruise handles such situations.
“Our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended,” the company said in the tweet. “An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued.”
“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 added.
It’s not clear why the Cruise AV was pulled over to begin with, however the vehicle appears to not have its headlights or taillights on, as the rear lights only illuminate when the brakes are being applied. That said, there are countless minor driving infractions the SFPD may have pulled this particular Cruise AV over for, given the fact these vehicles are still in development and may be prone to making mistakes or experiencing software errors.
GM will apply lessons learned from the development of its Chevy Bolt EV-based test vehicles to the Cruise Origin, a self-driving robotaxi that will enter production at its Factory Zero plant in Michigan in 2023. In the meantime, Cruise will keep testing its Bolt EVs on public roads in San Francisco – hopefully with minimal interactions with law enforcement.