Autonomous vehicle intercepted by SFPD, avoid citation

A self-driving vehicle belonging to Cruise was stopped by San Francisco police officers earlier this month after the driverless car was spotted with no headlights activated in the dark.

The absurd scenario was captured in a video by Brandon Melim on April 1 at around 10 p.m. near the corner of Clement Street and 8th Avenue in the Richmond District. The video begins with an SFPD officer approaching the idle car before recognizing that it is empty. The car then swerves forward through the intersection and comes to a halt at another stop, now with its hazard warning lights on.

Several SFPD officers surrounded the vehicle outside the Venus Cafe as passers-by gathered to admire the surreal scene.

Officer Robert Rueca, spokesman for the SFPD, told SFGATE that the officers made a traffic stop, but the vehicle then moved forward before stopping again to yield the right of way to the officers.

“During the arrest, officers made contact with the driverless vehicle’s remote operator,” Rueca said. “Upon the officer’s notification, a maintenance crew responded to the vehicle’s location and took control of the vehicle.”

Through his Twitter page, Cruising explained that his vehicle intentionally drove away from the police after yielding to the next safe place. “An officer has contacted Cruise personnel and no citation has been issued,” the company said. “We are working closely with the SFPD on how to interact with our vehicles, including a dedicated phone number they can call in situations like this.”

Cruise and other self-driving vehicle companies such as Waymo and Zoox do most of their driverless technology testing in San Francisco. Every company is required to produce a law enforcement interaction plan. Cruise plan provides law enforcement with a critical hotline — 888-662-7103 — to reach the company.

Testing is regulated by the DMV and according to department data obtained by the San Francisco Examinerthere were 792 autonomous vehicles collectively from Cruise, Waymo and Zoox actively tested in San Francisco last year.

Kevin A. Perras