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  • By John R. Quain

Cops Pull Over Self-Driving Car, Hilarity Ensues

If a driverless car gets a ticket, who pays the fine? And who gets the points on their license?

These deep, ponderous questions arose recently when San Francisco police pulled over a GM Cruise vehicle. The scene was captured by a passersby, much to the amusement of pedestrians and to the confusion of the police.

In the video, the miscreant car stops and a police officer gets out to interrogate the driver, only to find no one behind the wheel—or in the back seat. When the officer walks back to the police cruiser, the little Bolt-based GM Cruise appears to make a run for it. In actually, GM said the vehicle was doing as programmed and finding a safe spot to pull over and turn on its hazards.

Cruise is currently allowed to offer robotaxi rides in its autonomous vehicles--no safety driver required. However, the rides are only available in limited areas of San Francisco.

While no official reason was given for the stop by law enforcement (sobriety check? driving without headlights on?), some human drivers have complained that Cruise vehicles drive too slowly and deliberately, like grandpa on his way to church on Sunday morning. So maybe the autonomous vehicle was going to get a ticket for obstructing traffic (the equivalent of driving too slowly).

In the end, GM said no citation was issued.


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