Over the weekend, an Instagram video making the rounds on social media showed San Francisco police pulling over a Cruise driverless vehicle, which is owned by GM, with no safety driver in the Richmond district of San Francisco. The video, which was later shared by Seth Weintraub of the electric vehicle website Electrek, got more than a million views on Twitter.
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Weintraub describes the car as going “on the lamb” [sic], but if you watch the video expecting a high-speed driverless car chase, you’ll be disappointed. The actual three-minute video is boring. Several people can be heard on camera saying vaguely dramatic things like “I gotta watch this,” but there is nothing too dramatic happening aside from the strange sight of a cop pulling over a car without a driver. The video is of some police officers standing around a car. At one point, the car pulls forward rather slowly with its hazards on across an intersection, then stops again. None of this would have gotten nearly as much attention if not for the fact that the original poster on Instagram described the Cruise vehicle as trying to “take off,” something Weintraub echoed both in his tweet and on an Electrek post that put “Bolts off” in the headline (the Cruise car was a Chevy Bolt). What actually happened was the car pulled over, and then, with its hazards on, moved about a hundred feet forward across an intersection so it is no longer blocking a lane. It then came to a complete stop and the officers pulled up to it. Then the police resumed their stop.“Our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended,” Cruise tweeted in response to Weintraub’s thread. “An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued.” Police have a phone number they can call to contact Cruise during traffic stops.Although there was no human driver in the vehicle, it is common for police to instruct human drivers to pull over somewhere else than they initially stop, either to not be blocking traffic or for the officer’s safety when they’re standing next to the vehicle.