Cruise driverless car pulls away from police

Occurred: April 2022

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A video showing a Cruise driverless car pulling away after being stopped by police in San Francisco has prompted questions about how public authorities handle incidents involving autonomous vehicles. 

The car was initially pulled over by a San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officer for not having its headlights on at night. The officer then tried to open the door of the car having discovered it had no driver, upon which it started moving away before turning on its hazard lights and pulling in to a safer spot down the road.

According to Cruise, the vehicle operated as intended, moving to the 'nearest safe location' in order to stop in response to direction from Cruise employees. Cruise has been permitted to test driverless cars without a human safety driver present in San Francisco since December 2020. 

The incident raises questions about how the police and other public authorities handle driverless cars in various scenarios, and who should be liable for incidents caused by or involving them. Legal authorities such as The Law Commission of England and Wales recommend car manufacturers rather than users should be responsible if autonomous vehicles crash or go wrong.

Operator: GM Cruise
Developer: GM Cruise; General Motors/Chevrolet
Country: USA
Sector: Automotive
Purpose: Automate steering, acceleration, braking
Technology: Self-driving system
Issue: Safety; Accuracy/reliability; Legal - liability
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: April 2022
Last updated: November 2022