Cruise Denies Its Autonomous Car Sought To Evade Police

A video on social media has provided a possible glimpse of the future, when police in San Francisco attempted a traffic stop on a self-driving car.

The autonomous car was operated by General Motors’ Cruise self-driving subsidiary, which in February this year asked US regulators for permission to build and deploy its Cruise Origin vehicle that removes human controls such as a steering wheel or brake pedals.

The Cruise car stopped when pulled over for driving without headlights. When the police officer approached the car, they found it to be empty.

The Origin self-driving shuttle designed by GM’s Cruise. Image credit: Cruise

Police stop

A video of the incident was posted on Twitter by Seth Weintraub.

The police officer approached the Cruise car, found no driver, and then the officer attempted to open the driver’s door, but it was locked.

As the officer walked back to his police cruiser, the Cruise car suddenly drove off (still with no headlights).

The Cruise vehicle pulled over further down the street after the police gave chase.

Image credit: Cruise

The police officer was then seen phoning Cruise itself, as a crowd gathered and watched the surreal scene from the pavement.

Cruise has been testing its autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing purposes ever since 2015, and it started to allow users to hail its vehicles in San Francisco from last November.

No evasion

Cruise on its corporate Twitter account denied that its vehicle had attempted to evade police and said it had acted “as intended” by parking in a safe location.

The company said in a tweet that the vehicle had behaved as expected by moving to a safer location on the other side of the intersection where police were able to address their concerns.

A Cruise spokeswoman, Tiffany Testo, told the Guardian newspaper that the vehicle “did not have its headlights on because of a human error, which was the reason the SFPD approached it, and we have fixed the issue that led to this”.

She also told the Guardian that the company offered a phone number for police to call with questions any time a vehicle is pulled over.

The SFPD did not immediately respond to request for comment about the incident or about its policies for driverless vehicles.

Waymo rival

The Cruise video comes just weeks after Waymo announced it would deploy driverless vehicles in San Francisco, after it began testing its self-driving taxi vehicles earlier in 2021, but with a backup human drivers behind the wheel.

Waymo has been working on autonomous driving technology for more than a decade and running fully driverless rides in Arizona for more than a year, some of which have had some ‘issues’.

In May 2021 a Waymo vehicle blocked a road in Phoenix after becoming confused by the presence of traffic cones.

In October last year, Waymo vehicles clogged a normally quiet cul-de-sac in San Francisco, apparently due to confusion over traffic regulations.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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