Self-Driving Car Speeds Away from Cops in San Francisco

  • The AI really has learned to act like a real human driver.

They’re really trying to make self-driving cars the next big thing in automobiles. And in some ways, the artificial intelligence driving the cars really does act mistakably like a real human being.

By which we mean that it seems to try to run away from cops.

Police officers in San Francisco recently pulled over a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt, operated by General Motors-owned Cruise. After stopping at first, the AI-driven car quickly bolted (pun slightly intended) away from the cops.

After passing an intersection, however, the vehicle stopped again. But the sudden dash from an unmanned car sure gave the police a jolt.

“Can we arrest an empty car? Over.”

Eat My Dust, Coppers!

A passerby managed to catch the whole incident on video. He later uploaded the video on Instagram for all to see.

The video doesn’t show why the cops pulled the Cruise vehicle over in the first place. According to media reports, the car was driving around at night with its headlights off.

For an AI supposedly optimized to drive cars, that’s a pretty amateurish mistake.

In any case, the Cruise car stopped for the cops. The video shows one of the officers approaching the vehicle and looking fairly confused when he finds no driver in the car.

Bewildered, the cop tries the car’s door before starting to walk back to his patrol car. But as soon as he turns his back, the Cruise car takes off.

The video doesn’t show it, but we can only imagine the officer next to the car got a slight scare.

The driverless car rolls through an intersection at a speed that makes it seem like it’s trying to get away. But once it passes the intersection, it comes to as top and activates its emergency blinkers.

The patrol car follows the Cruise vehicle, and two officers get out this time. As they inspect the car, they seem genuinely puzzled by what’s going on with it.

As they walk around the car, one of the officers appears to be talking on his phone. Then the video fades to black.

Working as Intended

Although it seems like the driverless car was trying to escape from the cops, its operator claims otherwise. According to Cruise, the car did exactly what it was supposed to.

In a tweet, the company explained that the car was simply trying to find a safer spot.

“Our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended,” Cruise said.

The company added that the officers didn’t issue any citations for the car.

Alright, so maybe the car was trying to find a safer spot to park. Cruise may want to work on its system still, though — maybe have the car give the cops some kind of a warning that it’s planning to move.

Also, Cruise still didn’t explain why its car’s lights were turned off at night.

The company does have a video available where it instructs first responders on how to interact with its automatic vehicles. According to the instructions, Cruise cars have microphones that will identify sirens and cause the AI to act appropriately.

If there is an issue with the car, Cruise encourages cops to call its “escalation team.” The team can do various tasks on the car remotely to resolve any problems.

Perhaps they could do something like turn on the headlights?

Not Just Cruise

Automatic vehicles are trying their hardest to get on the roads. But as Cruise’s vehicle shows, there are still some kinks to iron out.

But it’s not like Cruise is the only company with some self-driving car issues. Tesla recently made headlines with its automatic braking system that…

Well, it mows down pedestrians.

Fortunately, no actual people got hurt. But some tests surfaced in August that showed Tesla’s Model 3 running over dummies that it should’ve stopped for.

In another instance, a Model 3 plowed through three child-sized dummies. Understandably, the tests resulted in a bit of backlash against Tesla.

Elon Musk, as he’s wont to do, took to Twitter to defend his company’s cars. And he does make a point — the tests don’t exactly make clear which of the Model 3’s safety features they have activated.

But before you buy a Tesla for the self-driving features, ask yourself if you’re willing to take the risk.

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