Driverless cars tease an exciting future. However, getting there will lead to some interesting situations until all the bugs are worked out. A video posted to Instagram earlier this month that went viral over the weekend captured such occurrence when San Francisco police attempted to pull over a Chevy Bolt that didn’t have its headlights on. However, the Bolt was a self-driving vehicle from Cruise, and it didn’t have a driver behind the wheel.
The video shows the Bolt yielding to the cruiser, which stops behind it. An officer gets out and peers into the Bolt’s window before pulling on the handle. The door doesn’t open, and the officer begins walking back to the cruiser, but then the Bolt pulls away. It drives through the intersection before pulling off to the side of the road and engaging the flashing hazard lights. The officers pull up back behind it.
Cruise responded on Twitter to the video, saying that the Bolt operated as intended, first yielding for the emergency vehicle before properly pulling over once engaged. According to Cruise’s Twitter post, the company works closely with the San Francisco Police Department on how to engage its vehicles when situations like this arise. Cruise even provides police with a dedicated phone number to call. According to Cruise, police contacted company personnel about the car, and they did not issue a citation.
Autonomous vehicles and cars equipped with advanced driver-assist systems could occupy a legal gray area as to who accepts responsibility when a vehicle being controlled by technology breaks the law or is involved in an collision. If legislators don’t figure it out beforehand, the courts could create a patchwork of regulations across the US, which would only complicate AV adoption.
Mercedes is leading that charge, announcing last month that it’d accept legal responsibility for its SAE Level 3 Drive Pilot system that allows for complete hands-off driving. However, Mercedes believes there will be hurdles, like negotiating laws on a state-by-state basis. It’s indicative of the challenges autonomous cars will face in the coming years as automakers slowly work toward trying to implement the technology.