A video recently uploaded shows what happens when police try to apprehend a self-driving vehicle – only to find no one inside.
San Francisco police stopped a vehicle operated by Cruise, a self-driving car company backed by General Motors, in a video posted April 1. Officers approached the car, which was driving without lights, only to find it was empty.
“There’s nobody in it – it’s crazy,” a viewer can be heard saying in the video. The car then accelerates across the intersection, leaving the police behind.
The video, which has since circulated widely on social media, sparked inevitable jokes. “Welcome to the future,” one Twitter user joked.
Cruise is working to deploy its self-driving technology for ride-sharing purposes, ferrying passengers around the city without a driver. It has been testing its vehicles with a backup driver in the front seat since 2015, but it began allowing users to hail driverless cars in San Francisco in November 2021.
The company said in a tweet that the vehicle performed as expected moving to a safer location on the other side of the intersection where police were able to address their concerns.
“Our AV yielded to the police vehicle and then pulled over to the nearest safe location as planned. An officer has contacted Cruise staff and no citation has been issued,” Cruise said. mentioned on his corporate Twitter account.
A Cruise spokeswoman, Tiffany Testo, told the Guardian that the vehicle “didn’t have its headlights on due to human error, which is why the SFPD approached it, and we fixed the issue that led to this”. She said the company offers a phone number that police can call to ask questions whenever a vehicle is stopped. The SFPD did not immediately respond to request for comment on the incident or its policies for driverless vehicles.
The viral video points out the bumps in the road as companies race to put fully autonomous vehicles on the streets.
The Cruise video comes just weeks after Waymo, another self-driving car company, announced it would be rolling out driverless vehicles in San Francisco. Waymo has been working on self-driving technology for over a decade and has been running completely driverless rides in Arizona for over a year.
But driverless car issues have made headlines in the past, including a Waymo vehicle that got stuck at an intersection and required a rescue.
Waymo said in March it would allow passengers in its driverless cars on a trial basis. To participate, interested runners must request a waitlist and sign non-disclosure agreements to gain early access.
Nuro, another self-driving car company, also has a driverless vehicle permit in San Francisco, but uses it for self-driving delivery services rather than passenger rides. It already does driverless deliveries in Mountain View, California.
Other driverless car makers are working on their own technology, including Tesla, Elon Musk’s electronic car company, and Aurora Innovation, a Pittsburgh-based company.