Self-driving vehicles were once thought to be impossible. Naysayers couldn’t wrap their heads around a vehicle that could operate safely without the aid of human decision-making. And yet, the same advanced driver assistance technology such as front-crash prevention systems and lane departure prevention have paved the way for self-driving cars.
Cruise Automation, GM’s self-driving technology business, posted a video of its Bolt EV prototype driving autonomously in San Francisco. The video wasn’t terribly exciting because it was taken from a dashcam and looked exactly like a video of someone just driving around.
Based on the feedback they received about the video, they staged a camera inside the car, giving viewers a much more impressive shot of the inside of the driverless vehicle.
However, another more exciting video surfaced of one of Cruise’s Chevy Bolts being pulled over by the police.
Police pull over a driverless vehicle
Auto Blog reports that police officers in San Francisco were perplexed when they pulled over one of Cruise’s Chevy Bolts only to discover there was no driver. Footage of the incident was posted on Instagram and showed a police car parked behind the Chevy Bolt and officers looking confused as they circled the vehicle. A bystander yells to the officers, “Ain’t nobody in it!”
One of the officers tries to open the driver’s door unsuccessfully and then walks back to his car. The vehicle then drives away, much to the amusement of bystanders.
Cruise responded to the incident on Twitter, stating that “Our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop. An officer contacted Cruise personnel, and no citation was issued.”
They went further, saying that they have coordinated with the San Francisco police department about how to interact with their vehicles, including a dedicated phone number to call for these situations.
Details about Cruise’s Chevy Bolt
Cruise’s Chevy Bolt EV uses a combination of radar, LIDAR sensors, and cameras that help it interact with its environment. It gathers information from these sensors and cameras and builds a map of its environment that can distinguish between static and moving objects. For example, it can differentiate between a parking meter and a pedestrian. This allows it to predict how objects will move to avoid them.
In September 2021, Cruise obtained approval to test autonomous vehicles in California without the presence of a safety driver. Its prototypes are authorized to transport paying customers on select routes without a driver between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am, but they can’t go faster than 30 mph.
Cruise has some competition
Cruise isn’t the only company working on fully autonomous vehicles. Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving car project, is trying to launch a wide-scale commercial service built around autonomous vehicles. Argo AI, which is backed by Ford and Volkswagen, is also venturing into the self-driving car market as well.
Waymo received approval to begin charging for rides in its self-driving taxis in San Francisco. To start collecting money from their AVs, California requires AV businesses to secure several permits.
Self-driving vehicles have several benefits, including less road congestion, lowered carbon emissions, and more independence for people with disabilities and seniors. Self-driving cars will also be able to communicate with each another, allowing vehicles on the road to drive synchronously. This could drastically reduce the number of accidents on roadways.