September 26, 2023


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Empty autonomous car pulled over by police, tries to flee

When police pulled over an autonomous electric car for driving without headlights, it initially took off – and there was no one behind the wheel to be given a ticket.

New footage has emerged of an empty autonomous car being pulled over by police in the US – before it appears to drive off.

The Chevrolet Bolt electric hatch – operated by General Motors autonomous company Cruise – was travelling through the streets of San Francisco at night without headlights and with no occupants on board when it was stopped by police.

An onlooker can be heard in the video saying “there’s nobody in there – that’s crazy,” while another asks: “How can that happen?”

After initially stopping, the autonomous vehicle – which was equipped with radar, camera and laser beacons to ‘read’ the road – lurches forward as a policeman is looking through the window, before coming to a stop further up the street with its hazard lights on.

While many on social media suggested the car was attempting to flee, General Motors claims it was moving to a safer location due to its proximity to moving traffic.

In official statement, General Motors said: “Our autonomous vehicle yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended.

“An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued … We work closely with the SFPD on how to interact with our vehicles in situations like this.”

San Francisco police have not released a statement on the incident, however Drive has contacted the department for further information.

This story will be updated if more information becomes available.

In 2016, US automotive giant General Motors bought the established Cruise autonomous tech company for an estimated $US500 ($AU700,000) to $US1 billion ($AU1.3 billion).

In 2017 the company received permission to test driverless cars on the streets of San Francisco, via the ‘Cruise Anywhere’ rideshare program – as seen in the full video below.

Reaction to the program appears to have been largely positive so far, and there have been no serious accidents reported since it began more than five years ago.

Up to 20 manufacturers – including Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Google’s Waymo, and Zoox – now have permission to test autonomous technology on public roads in the USA.  

William Davis

William Davis has written for Drive since July 2020, covering news and current affairs in the automotive industry.

He has maintained a primary focus on industry trends, autonomous technology, electric vehicle regulations, and local environmental policy.

As the newest addition to the Drive team, William was brought onboard for his attention to detail, writing skills, and strong work ethic.

Despite writing for a diverse range of outlets – including the Australian Financial Review, Robb Report, and Property Observer – since completing his media degree at Macquarie University, William has always had a passion for cars.

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