Stopping a self-driving car for a police check is not that simple

Stopping a self-driving car for a police check is not that simple

What happens when the police stop a self-driving car? This was discovered somewhat embarrassingly by a patrol of the San Francisco police, where a couple of months ago the driverless vehicles of the car company Cruise began to circulate in the Californian city. The rather comical scene in which the agents stop the robotaxi running with the headlights off, was captured in a video posted on Instagram.

After stopping Cruise's vehicle, one of the two patrol officers gets out from his car, he approaches the window of the robotaxi and tries in vain to open the door. After a couple of tries he gives up and walks back to the wheel. At that point, while the agent turns his back, the autonomous vehicle suddenly sets off, moving away from the patrol in full cinematic style, as if starting a chase with the police. After just a few meters, however, the car pulls over again, lighting the four arrows and waiting for the police to intervene. The agents then approach the vehicle again, get out and begin to circle around it, probably looking for a way to turn the headlights back on.

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Despite appearances, as Cruise explained on Twitter, the robotaxi did not leave to escape police intervention, but, once the patrol's presence was registered, it looked for the safest place to pull over. An action rarely practiced by human drivers and which took the agents by surprise. “The vehicle reacted to the presence of the police car - reads Cruise's tweet - and then looked for the best place to pull over, finding itself at a traffic light. The agents contacted our staff to solve the problem and no fine was imposed ".

It is still unclear what caused the vehicle's headlights to malfunction. Perhaps the automatic ignition had been disabled or was unable to detect the darkness around it, due to street lighting. According to Tiffany Testo, a spokesperson for Cruise interviewed by the Guardian, the problem was caused by "human error", without however specifying what kind. Either way, a worrying malfunction remains, as Cruise's robotaxis are only allowed to run between ten in the evening and six in the morning, when headlights are quite important.